Derby County's Under-23s earned a point in a 1-1 draw against Swansea City after being reduced to 10 men.
It was another eventful clash in Premier League 2 - Division 1 that saw a saved penalty, a red card and a beautiful strike as the Rams fought back in their second straight game to come away with a draw.
Adnan Maric put the home side ahead in their first real threat of the game despite Derby starting in control and with plenty of chances.
Ikechi Anya returned from injury in style with a stunning volley into the top corner to equalise for the Rams after going down to 10 men. Max Bird, fresh off his first-team appearance in the Carabao Cup last week, was sent off minutes into the second half with a harsh call for a challenge on George Byers.
The Rams began the game on the front-foot, learning from their opening game where they needed to climb back from falling 2-0 behind after 20 minutes against Blackburn Rovers.
Derby had an opportunity to take the lead after 10 minutes when Cameron Cresswell was brought down in the area.
Cresswell stepped up for the spot kick, but Josh Gould, who signed for the Swans today, batted his effort away. His save spun backwards to Chris Martin from six-yards, but his volley attempt was blocked.
The young Rams continued to pile on the pressure with patient play leading to Babos curling an effort just wide. Anya and Martin built up play to Bird who’s shot was deflected to the waiting captain. His half-volley effort from 10-yards out narrowly missed.
Despite Derby looking the far more threatening side, Swansea took the lead at their first real opportunity just inside the half hour. Swansea captain George Byers stole the ball in the box as Derby looked to play out and poked it quickly to Maric who had time to slot it past Henrich Ravas.
The Rams’ strong start continued to build into the half but they remained without an equaliser. As the seconds ticked down on the first 45 minutes, Eyoma chipped to Babos in front of the goal and on his first touch the midfielder struck towards goal, prompting Gould’s quick reactions to make a good save.
The Rams continued where they left off to start the half. Babos with another powerful effort from range was blocked and shot out wide to Anya who crossed quickly into Martin. The Rams forward looked to get a good head on it on the far post but fouled his man on the way up.
Just six minutes into the half, however, Derby were reduced to 10 men when Bird was shown a straight red for a high challenge on Swans’ captain Byers.
But the Rams attack didn’t falter as Anya announced his return from injury with a stunning strike into the top corner. Callum Guy, who came off the bench shortly before, launched a free-kick from the middle of the park over to the Scottish midfielder on the left. He controlled the bounce well before sweetly striking with his left-foot from the edge of the box which Gould had no chance of stopping.
The Rams wasted no time to continue the attack, continuing to control the game. Within three minutes, Guy had a low-shot form 20-yards out saved before Kyle McAllister tested the Swansea stopper again with a strong left-footed attempt from range.
Martin came close to sealing three points as time ran out as he met a free-kick by Guy from the right at the far post. Gould pulled out a great instinctive save to tip the effort behind.
The Rams left Wales with a point, although the result didn’t reflect the performance put in. It will be a quick turnaround for Darren Wassall’s side who travel south to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.
Swansea City: Gould; Reid, Cooper, Davies, Lewis; Byers (C), Blair; Dulca (Garrick 65’), Cullen, Maric; Baker-Richardson (Biabi 68’).
Unused Substitutes: Lewis, Shepperd, De Boer,
Derby County: Ravas; Bateman, Wassall, Macdonald; Eyoma, Gordon, Bird, Babos (C) (Guy 60’), Anya; Martin, Cresswell (McAllister 60’).
Unused Substitutes: Hunt, Barnes, Shonibare