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A Justin Oguntolu hat-trick helped Derby County’s Under-18s end their 2023/24 season with an empathetic 5-1 home win against Liverpool at Moor Farm Training Ground on Saturday afternoon.

Three goals from Oguntolu and strikes from Lennon Wheeldon and substitute Marcel Tola meant the Rams finished the Under-18 Premier League - North season in fourth place.

The first chance of the game fell to Cruz Allen, but his effort from a narrow angle was pushed behind for a corner by the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Derby took the lead in the 10th minute through a brilliant team goal. Allen played Billy Gough in behind and he squared it for Wheeldon, who made no mistake.

Danny Maye’s side pushed for a second goal and came close through Wheeldon. He controlled Luke Banks long ball forward, cut inside and took aim at the bottom corner, but his effort was well saved.

A deserved second eventually came through Oguntolu, as he pressed high and forced a mistake from the Liverpool back line. He won the ball, drove forward and slotted a cool finish home to double the Rams’ advantage.

Liverpool came close to halving the deficit just before half-time, but Josh Sonni-Lamble’s long range effort struck the crossbar.

Oguntolu topped off a perfect first half in added time. After Gough played the ball across into his path, he composed himself, cut inside and curled an effort into the corner to make it three.

Chances were at a premium in the second half, but Allen came close to adding a fourth with an audacious effort. The Wales youth international spotted the Liverpool goalkeeper off his line, but his long-range effort went just wide.

Oguntolu grabbed his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go, as substitute Demiane Agustien played him through with a delicate through ball, and he fired a powerful effort into the top corner.

The visitors pulled a goal back with three minutes to go, as Sonni-Lambie beat the offside trap and scored from close range.

Derby restored their four-goal advantage a minute later, however, as substitute Tola found himself with the freedom of the Liverpool half. He kept his composure, ran the length of the Liverpool half and cooly slotted home.

The victory topped off a brilliant season for Derby’s youngsters and meant Maye’s side ended the Under-18 Premier League – North campaign in fourth place.

Derby County Under-18s: Price (GK), Gordon, Trialist (Agustien 53), Hawkins (Tola 63), Marriott, Banks (Osayande 64), Onguntolu, Eames, Wheeldon, Allen (Mintus 67), Gough.

Substitutes Not Used: Shattell (GK).

Words: Will Stanier