Derby County’s Under-23s were beaten 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur in Premier League 2 - Division 1 on Monday evening.
Derby found themselves two goals behind inside the opening 20 minutes of the match as Nile John and Dilan Markanday struck for Spurs.
Luke Plange marked his first start for the Derby’s Under-23s with a goal before the half hour mark to haul the Rams back into contention.
With Derby pushing for an equaliser, with Plange going closest, Alfie Devine struck with just over ten minutes remaining to ensure it was the hosts that claimed all three points.
After picking up their first win of the 2021/22 season last time out, in a 3-1 home win over West Ham United a week ago, Pat Lyons’ side travelled south to Stevenage FC’s Lamex Stadium in a positive frame of mind.
Lyons’ starting line-up included Kornell McDonald and Jordan Brown, who have played first-team football for the Rams this season in the Carabao Cup, while Plange made his first start of the campaign after signing from Arsenal in the close-season.
Derby, however, found themselves behind inside just three minutes as England youth international midfielder John thundered a low shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Harrison Foulkes from inside the box.
The Rams responded well to the setback of going behind early on and defender Max Bardell, who scored in the win over West Ham, headed over from a corner just before the quarter-hour mark as they made positive inroads into the game.
Just as they were finding their feet, Lyons’ side found themselves with a bigger mountain to climb after 20 minutes. Winger Markanday drove towards the Derby box from the right and smashed a low effort towards goal, with the ball having enough power to flash beyond the unsighted Foulkes at the near post and find the bottom corner.
Spurs were beginning to flex their muscles by this stage and a goal-line clearance from Brown denied Jack Clarke a third for the hosts, after a free-kick into the box wasn’t sufficiently cleared, but the Rams managed to hang on at a key period.
Their resilience under pressure was rewarded down the other end as they pulled a goal back just before the half-hour mark. Connor Dixon broke the offside trap to get away down the right and his low cross was turned into the net by Plange from a few yards out.
Derby enjoyed good spells on the ball for the remainder of the half but were unable to create a clear opportunity to force home goalkeeper Joshua Oluwayemi into action.
With Lyons’ half-time words ringing in their ears, the Rams started the second half well and after Brown’s shot from the edge of the box was blocked, Plange fizzed a low effort narrowly wide.
At the other end, with the game become somewhat stretched, Derby goalkeeper Foulkes had to be alert to make a fine save to deny Spurs substitute Yago Santiago at point blank range.
Brown curled a free-kick just wide for Derby as the hour mark closed in and, with the pressure building, Plange forced a save from Oluwayemi after Reece Hutchinson knocked the ball invitingly into his path inside the box.
Derby continued to push for an equaliser and enjoyed good spells of possession, but it was the hosts that got the crucial fourth goal of the game with 77 minutes on the clock. Devine found space inside the box to get a shot away and his effort was thrashed into the top corner and away from the outstretched arms of Foulkes.
Foulkes denied Harvey White a fourth late on with a fine stop in the final piece of noteworthy action as the latter stages of the game petered out.
Derby’s Under-23s are back on the road in Premier League 2 - Division 1 on Saturday afternoon when they travel north to take on Manchester City at the City Football Academy (4pm kick-off).
Tottenham Hotspur Under-23s: Oluwayemi (GK), Cesay, Lavinier, White (C), Muir, Omole, Markanday, John, Scarlett (Santiago 46), Devine, Clarke (Craig 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Lo-Tutala (GK), Fagan-Walcott, Paskotsi.
Derby County Under-23s: Foulkes (GK), McDonald, R Hutchinson, Bardell, Cashin (C), Grewal-Pollard (Ebiowei 82), L Thompson, Brown, Cybulski, Dixon, Plange.
Substitutes Not Used: Solomon, Roberts (GK), Clarke, Matthews.