They fought until the bitter end, but Derby County’s Under-18s exited the FA Youth Cup at the Fourth Round stage after a 4-2 defeat (after extra time) against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Morgan Whittaker gave Derby the lead after just seven minutes; midfielder Jason Knight’s initial shot was blocked by Norwich defender Timi Odusina, but the ball fell at Whittaker’s feet and he calmly slotted his effort past goalkeeper Ryan Dickerson.
The hosts then equalised just six minutes later with Alan Fleming firing his shot over the head of Derby goalkeeper Joe Fryatt and into the roof of the net.
Derby regained the lead shortly after the match was levelled when Jayden Bogle’s free kick from a tight angle was headed in at the near post by Norwich captain Alfie Payne, wrong footing his own ‘keeper Dickerson to give the visitors the lead for a second time in the match.
Early into the second half, Rams skipper Max Bird was carried off on a stretcher and replaced by Henry Wise after Bird collided into one of his own teammates, with the captain receiving a very lengthy period of treatment.
Norwich defender Bilal Kamal levelled the match with 10 minutes to go from the penalty spot after Fleming was bought down in the penalty area by Louie Sibley. Kamal kept his nerve and placed his spot kick into the bottom corner.
Visitors Derby had a chance to snatch a late winner in the fifteenth minute of second-half stoppage time, but defender Bogle had his penalty kick saved by Dickerson after Cameron Cresswell was fouled in the 18-yard box by Max Aarons.
The hosts took the lead for the first time in the match early into extra time. Alfie Payne’s corner was met by Anthony Spyrou’s header forcing a save from the feet of Fryatt, but the ball fell to defender Odusina who smashed in the rebound from close range.
Norwich sealed the victory in the second half of extra time via Spyrou, who thundered home his shot from just outside of the six-yard box after the ball fell to him kindly following Lee Buchanan’s tackle on Glenn Middleton.
The defeat for the Rams sees them exit the competition, whilst the Canaries will face a home tie against either Crystal Palace or Newcastle United in the Fifth Round.
Justin Walker’s and Rory Delap’s team will now return their attentions to their Premier League - North campaign, with their next match in the league against Sunderland taking place on Saturday 20th January at the Training Centre in partnership with the University of Derby.
The Rams will then travel to the Aon Training Complex to face Manchester United on Saturday 3rd February.
Derby County U18s Vs Sunderland U18s- Saturday 20th January 2018 (kick-off: 1pm)
Manchester United U18s Vs Derby County U18s- Saturday 3rd February 2018 (kick-off: 12pm)
Derby County U18s Vs Blackburn Rovers U18s- Saturday 10th February 2018 (kick-off: 12:30pm)
Liverpool U18s Vs Derby County U18s- Friday 16th February 2018 (kick-off: 7pm)
Middlesbrough U18s Vs Derby County U18s- Saturday 24th February 2018 (kick-off: 1pm)
Words by Jonty Colman
Images by Harry Marshall