Derby County Under-23s earned a share of the points in a 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday evening.
After a three-week break from fixtures, Pat Lyons’ side was back in action at Loughborough University Stadium in Premier League 2 Division 1 action. Midway through the first-half, they found themselves behind after they were unable to clear a free-kick and Jenson Wier found the back of the net.
Derby built into the game and through the second-half looked the better side. Jordon Ibe, fresh off his second Derby debut on the weekend in the first-team game, and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, upon his return from loan at Bristol Rovers, came on at half-time.
They replaced Louie Sibley and Jack Stretton who were also getting minutes under their belts following bench appearances for the first team. It was Ibe who drew the Rams level after he coolly converted from the penalty spot, straight down the middle with eight minutes left to play.
The Rams had more of the chances in the opening stages of the game with Sibley creating back-to-back chances on the 15 minute-mark. First, he made one of his driving runs into the box and struck hard into the side netting. Moments later he received the ball by the post and tried again from a tight angle, but it was a comfortable save for Carl Rushworth.
However, ten minutes later the visitors took the lead. Danny Cashman picked up a free-kick to the left side of the area and the initial delivery missed everyone in the box. Jack Sprog chased it down by the by-line and cut inside, Ted Jenks got a light back-heel and Weir was open to find the back of the net.
Moments later, Max Bardell made an important last-ditch tackle in the area when Jack Sprog was played Cashman was played through and about to turn to go one-on-one with Emmanuel Idem before the full-back came sliding in for the challenge.
Archie Brown had the best chance to equalise for the Rams with ten minutes left to go in the half, when he waltzed in from the left to the centre of the edge of the box and unleashed a powerful right-footed effort. The force made Rushworth initially bobble the save, but the Seagulls’ stopper quickly managed to recover to grab the high shot.
The left back was involved again moments before halftime when he crossed in from the left, but Sibley couldn’t quite connect with the delivery at the near post and it came too fast for Jahmal Hector-Ingram behind.
On the hour mark, A. Brown sent a long-ball down the length of the pitch. Hector-Ingram showed incredible work-rate to chase it down, beat his man and turn him to shoot, but Rushworth made the block at the near post.
The Rams looked brighter in the second-half and Hector-Ingram came close again. Ibe played him through in the area, and the strikers heels appeared to be clipped as he dribbled forward. He managed to stay on his feet and despite big protests, the referee didn’t blow his whistle and his shot was blocked.
Soon after, Ibe curled an effort from the edge of the box just wide of the top right corner.
But the Rams’ goal came with just under ten minutes left to play when Isaac Hutchinson was brought down in the area, and this time, the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. Ibe stepped up to the mark and coolly drilled his effort straight down the middle to draw the score level.
The Rams had a chance to nick it in added time when a A. Brown burst down the left and fed forward to Ibe. The forward crossed in to Hector-Ingram in front of goal, but somehow Rushworth tipped it up, fell to the ground and grabbed the ball to safety while on the floor.
Derby County: Idem, Bardell, A. Brown, Watson, J. Brown, Wassall, Hutchinson, Wilson, Stretton (Mitchell-Lawson, 45), Sibley (Ibe, 45), Hector-Ingram
Unused Substitutes: Sykes-Kenworthy, Duncan, Solomon
Brighton & Hove Albion: Rushworth, Yapi, Furlong, Leonard (Tanimowo, 90), Turns, Tsoungui, Vukoje (Moran, 69), Weir, Cashman (Wilson, 77), Jenks, Spong
Unused Substitutes: Talley, Ella