Derby County Under-23s returned to their winning ways when Jack Stretton’s brace completed a 2-1 comeback victory over Leicester City.
Bradley Foster made a massive save for the Rams in the opening minutes, denying the Foxes an early lead from the penalty spot. It was Leicester who opened the scoring soon after though through Darragh O’Connor as he turned in from a corner.
However, Archie Brown and Jack Stretton combined twice to lift the Rams to victory. A. Brown flung in a pinpoint cross for Stretton to head in the first-half before the full-back’s brilliant work saw the striker convert from the penalty spot to complete his brace after Leicester were reduced to ten men when Shane Flynn picked up his second yellow card.
Isaac Hutchinson was named in the starting line-up for the young Rams, making his first appearance after signing earlier in the day from Southend United.
Just three minutes into the game Derby were faced with their first hurdle when Harrison Solomon was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.
Callum Wright stepped up to the penalty spot for the foxes and struck towards the bottom left corner. Brad Foster read it brilliantly and dived to meet it and pounce to control the ball before Leicester could get a second shot.
The Foxes proved difficult to break down in the opening stages and provided a physical battle that they have always brought in recent seasons. By the 13th minute, they had taken the lead. O’Conner was waiting at the back post to direct the corner into the net. Despite Stretton’s best efforts on the goalline, the striker was unable to clear the effort.
Derby struggled to create many changes, but the first real opportunity led to a goal. Brilliant work down the left side resulted in Archie Brown whipping a cross in from the left and Stretton was there to power his headed effort past Jakub Stolarcyzk.
Five minutes later, Joe Bateman was crucial on defence when Wright found himself with space in the six-yard box, before a superb tackle by the midfielder.
Derby were on the front foot in the opening stages of the second half. Stretton powered forward and won a free-kick on the edge of the box, which Jordan Brown elected to take. However the midfielder drove his effort into the wall.
Soon after, Bateman worked relentlessly down the middle of the pitch, sliding past his marker before getting up and continuing his run to then play forward to Hutchinson.
The Rams’ new midfielder showed a glimpse of what we can expect with a stunning strike. He rifled a shot from the edge of the box that caught the wind and whistled just on the wrong side of the post.
Just after the hour mark, Leicester were reduced to ten men when Flynn received his second yellow card of the game for another foul.
The Rams’ pressure continued to build and eventually it payed off with their second goal. A. Brown did superbly the whole way down the left flank, jumping over his marker and driving into the area, only to be brought down at the last moment to win a penalty.
Stretton stepped up to the spot and made no mistake as he powered his effort into the roof of the net with 15 minutes left to play.