Just two games stand between Derby County Under-18s and the Premier League – North table trophy after a 2-2 draw against Manchester City saw them move three points clear at the top.
A fantastic comeback saw the Rams snatch a point with two goals coming in added time. Morgan Whittaker was the hero as he first assisted Connor Dixon and then earned and scored a penalty in injury time to give his side a valuable point at Moor Farm Training Centre.
As they have often done, in the midst of this incredible seven game unbeaten run, Derby started the game well and looked dangerous from the sound of the first whistle.
After a Louie Sibley corner caused panic in the City defence, Derby had two efforts blocked on the line. Soon after, Jordan Brown rose above all to meet another Sibley corner, but saw his headed attempt crash against the crossbar.
Derby failed to capitalise on their chances in the same way their opponents did. Goals from D’Margio Wright-Phillips and Taylor Richards sandwiched the half-time break and Derby were two goals behind with just over an hour gone.
This was how it stayed until the 90th minute. Derby, at this point, showed their undeniable character when Whittaker sent a looping pass over to Dixon who took one touch to control it and one to dispatch it into the roof of the net.
At 2-1, the comeback was more possible than it was probable. That was until Whittaker broke the deep back line of City and crashed into the oncoming goalkeeper to earn Derby a last second penalty. He got up from the challenge and coolly slotted the 12-yard-kick into the bottom right corner.
In their penultimate match, the Under-18s will host the red side of Manchester in their final home match of the season as they look to move within touching distance of the Premier League – North Under-18 title.
Manchester United head to Derby in decent form. They are unbeaten in their last five league matches but have drawn three. They sit fourth in the table but cannot mathematically catch up to the Rams, three places away at the top.
The game will take place on 16th April and will be played at the Training Centre in Partnership with the University of Derby, kick-off 12pm.
Derby also face Wolves on what promises to be an exciting final day of the season.
Derby County U18s vs Manchester United U18s – Saturday 20th April 2019 (kick-off: 12pm)
Wolverhampton Wanderers U18s vs Derby County U18s – Saturday 27th April 2019 (kick-off: 11am)
Words by Joe Lightfoot