Derby County’s Under 21s maintained their impressive start to the season with a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Goals from Theo Robinson and Conor Doyle, either side of a Matthew Fletcher strike for the hosts early the second half, handed the Rams their second win from three matches in the newly-formed U21 Professional Development League 2 – North.
Goalkeeper Saul Deeney, defender Jake Buxton and strike duo Theo Robinson and Nathan Tyson filled up Derby’s quota of overage players against the Owls, while the rest of the squad contained young professionals and scholars from Derby’s Academy.
In glorious Yorkshire sunshine Derby started well and deservedly went ahead after 25 minutes when Robinson fired home his second goal for the Under 21s this season. England Under 17 international forward Mason Bennett drove into the area from the right and drew home goalkeeper Cameron Dawson off his line, which allowed him to square for Robinson to fire into the net.
Caolan Lavery hit the crossbar from a free-kick before the half was out as Wednesday pushed for an equaliser, with Deeney relatively untested as centre-back pairing Valentin Gjokaj and Buxton proved to be a formidable defensive barrier for the home side to break down all game.
Frustratingly, by the interval Derby had used all of their three allocated substitutions. Andy Dales and Mason Bennett picked up knocks while Michael Hoganson was replaced at the break due to illness – so scholars Sam Berry, Kwame Thomas and Kayode Bola were introduced into the action.
Tyson, who played out wide all game, volleyed narrowly wide at the start of the second half from 20 yards, but Wednesday drew level on 50 minutes when Fletcher swept home after a superb run by Hayden White from inside his own half.
However Derby, watched by manager Nigel Clough and his first-team coaching staff, responded well and Dawson made a fine stop to deny Doyle from Jacobs’s deep free-kick five minutes after Fletcher’s strike. Jacobs looked lively throughout and was at the heart of Derby’s best attacking moves.
With 65 minutes on the clock Doyle found himself with time and space to score what turned out to be the winner. With just Dawson to beat the USA Under-23 international kept his cool and drove the ball low and hard into the back of the net.
Wednesday built up some late pressure as they tried desperately to force an equaliser, but Derby held on to record another win to take their unbeaten run to three matches.
Next up for Derby’s Under 21s is a home game against Huddersfield Town at Moor Farm on Wednesday 19th September (1pm KO) at Moor Farm.
Sheff Wed U21: Dawson, Bennett, Fenwick, Grant, McKenzie, Nyon, White (Ayoola 60), Hague, Kyle, Fletcher, Lavery (Dawes 84).
Subs Not Used: Wildsmith, Smith, Peacock.
Derby County U21: Deeney, Dales (Berry 20), Hoganson (Bola 46), Dawkins, Buxton, Gjokaj, Bennett (Thomas 28), Doyle, Jacobs, Tyson, Robinson.
Subs Not Used: Revan, Wassall.