Derby County under-18s came from behind for the first time to win their third consecutive pre-season match 5-1 against Barnsley at the Moor Farm Training Centre.
A hat-trick from Jack Stretton and a brace from Archie Brown after an early setback completed the most comprehensive comeback for Justin Walker’s side.
Derby were battling against the high winds in the first half and it showed; after just five minutes, the Rams found themselves in uncharted territory when Barnsley took the lead from a set piece that was made all the more difficult to defend because of the weather conditions.
It didn’t take Derby long to respond though and draw level. Inside the 10th minute, Eno Nto carried the ball well down the right and cut a delicate ball back to Stretton whose cute back-heel finish evaded the two Barnsley defenders positioned on the line.
Soon enough, Derby were back to their usual winning ways. The wind, again, played its part but this time it helped Walker’s side on the attack. A long looping ball was caught in the wind and made it hard for the Barnsley defenders to retain and easy for Stretton to gather and score his and Derby’s second of the match.
Three minutes later and the margin was extended. Proving too quick and skilful for the Barnsley defence, Nto recorded his second assist of the game with a similar move to the first. This time though, he provided Brown with the opportunity which he emphatically took to make it 3-1.
As the wind and rain became relentless, so did Derby as Stretton sealed his hat-trick with another close-range finish after some clever movement in the box which put his side out of sight.
At the other end, Harrison Solomon’s bravery kept the visitors from reducing the deficit. A superb goal-line clearance was rewarded by a smack on the knee by the frame of the goal.
Brown made a late surge to challenge Stretton for the match ball as he scored his second just before the full-time whistle was sounded to make it five and give Walker his most convincing pre-season victory.
What’s to come…
There are now just two games remaining for Derby as their pre-season preparations draw to a close.
Walker’s side will have just five days to prepare for their next match as they head to Loughborough University on a Thursday afternoon in their penultimate friendly. The under-18s will be looking to continue their 100% record in their fourth pre-season fixture in just 12 days.
The young Rams will be back in the comfort of their own home for the final game of the season as they take on Norwich at the Moor Farm Training Centre behind closed doors. The match will be Walker’s last chance to see all of his players in action before the Under-18 Premier League North kicks off on Saturday 10th March.