Derby County Under-23s fell to a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at the Training Centre in partnership with University of Derby in Premier League 2 Division 1.
Darren Wassall’s side remain fourth in the league while Chelsea edge close to them, ow just two points behind in fifth.
Conor Gallagher found the back of the net in the final minute of the first half after a couple of attempts earlier. Despite a spirited reaction from the Rams in the second half, the Blues’ midfielder’s goal was the difference.
It was a cagey opening 20 minutes between the two side who both looked strong both on and off the ball.
But the Rams came close just after the 20-minute mark with Louie Sibley leading the way. His pinpoint delivery from a free-kick from the left of the area fell just in front of goal and an awkward shot by Josh Shonibare was cleared out to Alex Babos but his effort from Range was saved.
Straight down the other end Tariq Uwakwe tried his luck from range but it was met by the palms of Josh Barnes before good defending by the Rams eventually cleared it.
With the Rams growing more and more into the game back-to-back chances came. First Sibley did what he has done so many times this season and showed his power and precision from range, but this time it was just over.
Derby’s high press then looked to pay off as Cresswell capitalised on a mistake at the back by keeper Jamie Cumming. He scooped up the Blues’ keepers pass out from the back and quickly struck an effort just wide.
Gallagher had been the main threat for Chelsea in the second part of the first 45 minutes going one-on-one with Barnes but a superb stop from the Rams’ ‘keeper denied him. But one minute from the break, the young midfielder got his goal.
Juan Castillo did well down the left and fed into Gallagher who arrived in the box for a first-time left-footed strike past Barnes.
Barnes made another terrific save to start the second half. This time, Gallagher looked to turn provider as he squared to Daishawn Redan but the Rams ‘stopper expertly denied him.
From there, the Rams only got stronger on the attack and pushed hard for the leveller. Calum Macdonald drove forward just after the hour mark but and was brought down on the edge of the box. Alex Babos took the free-kick but it flew straight into the arms of Cumming.
Babos was in the thick of the action again moments later after great work by Jayden Mitchell-Lawson on the right sees the Wales youth international receive the ball at the far post, but his shot was deflected wide.
In the final minute, Mitchell-Lawson mad a good run in to the area before being brought down on the tackle, however, calls for a penalty were waved off and the Rams were unable to find the equaliser.
Derby County: Barnes; Gordon, Bateman, Hunt, Macdonald; Bird, Babos (Eyoma, 81), Sibley; Mitchell-Lawson, Cresswell, Shonibare (Wilson, 67)
Unused Subs: Yates, Rashid, Karic
Chelsea: Cumming; Colley, Ampadu, Guehi; Maatsen, Uwakwe (Mola, 73), McEachran, Gallagher, Castillo; Redan (Nunn, 90), Brown
Unused Subs: Ziger, Lavinier, Lawrence