Derby County Under-18s secured their eighth successive win in all competitions on Saturday as they defeated Blackburn Rovers 3-1 away from home.
Returning to league action for the first time since early December, due to cup ties and the winter break, Justin Walker’s side flew out of the traps at the Blackburn Rovers Training Centre.
Within three minutes the Rams were ahead, Archie Brown raced to the by-line and his cut back cross was met by the boot of Morgan Whittaker to apply the finish.
However ten minutes later Derby were pegged back when Samuel Durrant found himself a yard of space 20-yards from goal and the Blackburn winger unleashed an unstoppable effort passed Sam French.
Things could have gone from bad to worse for the Under-18s if not for a last ditch clearance from Eiran Cashin. Vilius Piliukaitis spearheaded a Rovers counter attack and looked certain to score after rounding French but Cashin somehow blocked to maintain parity.
With the two sides level at half-time, Derby had to dig in during the early stages of the second-half with Whittaker blocking another Blackburn effort off the line.
Derby’s resilience was rewarded 20 minutes from time as a long punt forward found Jason Knight, whose first time effort looped over the goalkeeper to restore the one goal lead.
Ten minutes from time the three points were secured, Jack Stretton poked a through ball into the path of Conner Dixon who smartly controlled and buried his shot under Rovers’ ‘keeper to seal victory.
What’s To Come…
Next up the Under-18s face Tottenham Hotspur in the Under-18 Premier League Cup Quarter-Finals on Friday night.
The young Rams defeated Aston Villa in the previous stage of the competition to secure the tie with Spurs, with Morgan Whittaker and Tyree Wilson bagging braces in a 4-2 victory before Christmas.
Kick-off on Friday is at 7pm and will take place at the Loughborough University Stadium.
The Next Five…
Derby County U18s Vs Tottenham Hotspur – Friday 25th January 2019 (kick-off: 7pm)
Derby County U18s Vs Manchester City U18s – Saturday 2nd February 2019 (kick-off: 12pm)
Middlesbrough U18s Vs Derby County U18s – Saturday 23rd February 2019 (kick-off: 1pm)
Derby County U18s Vs Newcastle United U18s – Saturday 2nd March 2019 (kick-off: 1pm)
Stoke City U18s Vs Derby County U18s – Saturday 16th March 2019 (kick-off: 11am)
Words by Andrew Haines