George Thorne’s penalty saw Derby County’s Under-23s end Everton’s unbeaten start in Premier League 2 - Division 1 in their first game at Loughborough University Stadium.
Derby controlled the game for large periods and they got their rewards when the excellent Aaron Eyoma was brought down inside the area by Nathangelo Markelo midway through the first half, with Thorne converting expertly from the spot.
The Rams started well and they managed to sustain attacks when they moved into the final third early in the game.
When George Thorne’s effort was blocked after six minutes, Derby recycled possession well and eventually Louie Sibley volleyed inches wide of the target.
Sibley went close again after great work from Aaron Eyoma, who evaded the attention of his marker before playing the ball through to the 17-year-old, but angled effort went past the same post.
Eyoma was enjoying his most impressive performance in a Derby shirt and he won a penalty with 24 minutes gone after some brilliant skill, with Markelo fouling him inside the area after he was turned inside and out.
Thorne stepped up and stroked the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Everton created little in the first half and their best chance came in the fourth minute of stoppage time, when Henrich Ravas had to palm away Bassala Sambou’s effort.
Joe Bateman started at right-back and he used his pace to create an opportunity after the break when he tore away from Brendan Galloway and crossed, but it deflected away from danger.
Eyoma gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position moments later, but Ravas came to the rescue with another flying stop to tip Antony Evans’ effort onto the post.
Sibley began to run the show from the 70th minute onwards and he fired over the bar after good work from Joe Bateman and Max Bird.
Bird headed just wide with 10 minutes to play as Darren Wassall’s side continued to dominate the game.
Derby County: Ravas; Bateman, Hunt, Pearce, Macdonald; Bird, Thorne, Sibley; McAllister (Shonibare, 64’), Cresswell, Eyoma (Mitchell-Lawson, 87’).
Unused Substitutes: Barnes, Karic, Al-Hussani.
Everton: Hilton; Markelo, Browning, Feeney, Galloway; Evans, Charsley, Adeniran, Broadhead; Sambou; Hornby.
Unused Substitutes: Hewelt, Foulds, Bowler, Lavery, Ouzounidis.
Aaron Eyoma provided the inspiration from which Derby scored the only goal of the contest, and it was a moment that was befitting of his overall performance.
He tormented his marker all night with skilful feet and pace, and it was Nathangelo Markelo that could do anything but bring him down when he moved into the box in the first half.
The Under-23s will face another stern test when they come up against Manchester City at the Academy Stadium on Saturday.