Archie Brown struck late to secure Derby County Under-18s a point in an all-action 3-3 Premier League Cup draw with Aston Villa.
The leveler came with seconds remaining as winger Brown rose highest to head into the roof of the net from Jaden Charles’s inviting corner.
It was the third time the young Rams equalised in a thrilling Premier League Cup clash that was full of entertainment. The result means Justin Walker’s side must await other results before finding out whether they will advance to the knockout phase.
Despite its enthralling conclusion, the match got off to a slow start with very few high-quality chances in the early stages.
It took 28 minutes for Villa to take the lead for the first time as Charlie Farr’s pinpoint cross was volleyed home by Brad Young.
Derby then opened their goalscoring account minutes before the interval. Bartosz Cybulski was on hand to prod home after Villa keeper Akos Onodi failed to deal with Kornell McDonald’s low ball in.
Following a couple of chances for either side, the hosts retook the lead, setting the game alight in the process as four goals were scored in the last 25 minutes.
The first of these was notched by substitute Aaron Pressley whose low effort took a deflection before nestling in the bottom left corner.
Cybulski then evened up the scoreline less than a minute later with his and the Rams’ second of the afternoon. This time the Pole bundled into the net after Tyree Wilson’s direct run and cross.
The game then took yet another twist as Pressley secured his brace. The frontman found space in the area before smashing past Bradley Foster-Theniger from a difficult angle.
That looked to secure the Villans all three points but with seconds to play, Brown popped up to head Derby level, ensuring that the spoils were shared.
The draw means the young Rams will have to wait on other teams’ results before finding out whether they will progress to the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup due to finishing third in Group B.
The young Rams are back in action on Wednesday night as they welcome Icelandic side IA Akranes to Pride Park in the next chapter of their first-ever UEFA Youth League campaign.
They head into the match with an advantage in the tie having beaten their opponents away from home earlier this month as goals from Ebosele and Stretton secured a 2-1 win.
Should Walker’s side avoid defeat, they will progress into the next round of the competition where they will face a runner-up from the group stage of the UEFA Champions League path. This would be a single-legged tie with the victor advancing to the last-16.
IA Akranes (H) – Wednesday 27 November (kick-off: 7pm)
Manchester City (A) – Saturday 30 November (kick-off 12pm)
Everton (H) – Wednesday 04 December (kick-off: 7pm)
Liverpool (H) – Saturday -7 December (kick-off: 12pm)
West Bromwich Albion (A) – Saturday 11 January (kick-off: 11pm)
Derby County: Foster-Theniger, McDonald, Charles, Thompson (C), Rutt, Cashin, Wilson, Aghatise, Stretton, Cybulski (Rogers 80’), Brown
Unused subs: Williams, Halwax, Bardell, Matthews
Words by: Jack Hasler