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Derby County Under-18s made it two wins in two in the Premier League – North with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough at Rockliffe Park.

A second-half storm inspired the win, with goals from Eiran Cashin and Jack Stretton. The latter now joins Archie Brown as the Academy’s top scorer for the season (seven).

The second half was well contested, with neither side managing to dominate the play. It was a first 45 minutes that presented very few chances on goal for either side. The home team’s only chance, and arguably best of the entire game, came when Green’s effort rocketed off the top of the bar.

Stretton’s pace caused the Middlesbrough defence a plethora of problems early on; the striker was fouled on two occasions on the edge of the area just as he looked destined to go through on goal.

That was before Jaden Charles’ wicked corner was met by Cashin who could only direct his header over the bar from close range in Derby’s best opportunity of the half.

Captain Cash made no mistake with his next headed chance early in the second half. This time, he headed Charles’ corner ball into the ground and into the net to hand the Rams a deserved lead after a bright start on the restart.

Set pieces were proving to be quite the asset for Derby as they converted another minutes later. The ball rather fortunately bounced off of Cashin and fell to Stretton on the edge of the box. The number nine struck the ball on the half-volley with enough venom to power it through the opposition shot stopper.

After his impressive performance last weekend, Tyree Wilson went inches away from netting back-to-back goals after his sliding finish at the back post was cleared off the line.

Then, the Rams really ought to have been put out of sight. Substitute Bartosz Cybulski was fed through by a clever reverse pass from Jack Rogers, but the striker blasted his attempt over the bar from 10 yards out.

In turn, though, the side weren’t made to pay, thanks to a comprehensive performance from Charles, Cashin, Charlie Rutt and Max Bardell in the Derby defence.

What’s to come

Another Premier League – North meeting follows the Rams’ latest. Next, they return to the comfort of their own home at Moor Farm against strugglers Newcastle United; their opponents sit second-bottom of the league table above only rivals Sunderland who are yet to record a point all season.

Amidst a poor run at the beginning of the season, Derby suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to the side back in August so they will be looking to amend previous errors come February.

However, that fixture isn’t until the first day of the new month, giving Walker’s side a well-deserved weekend off.

They remain at Moor Farm the following week when they host Everton, another side that beat Derby in their false start in the division; they also bettered the Rams 2-1 but on the opening day of the campaign.

Revenge has already been served to the Merseyside outfit though, after Eiran Cashin scored the only goal of the game to ensure that his side’s name was in the hat for the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, and Everton’s wasn’t.

Words by Joseph Lightfoot