Young Rams get 2013 underway with an away win.

Derby County’s Under-21s maintained their title challenge with a 3-2 win away to Huddersfield Town on Monday afternoon.

The Rams took the lead just before the midway point of the first half when USA Under-23 international Conor Doyle found the net, but his strike was cancelled out by Max Leonard a few minutes before the break.

Second half goals from Kieron Freeman and substitute Jamie Hanson helped the Rams on their way to victory, although the hosts did pull a goal back in injury time through Matt Crooks in what was a five-goal thriller.

With this weekend’s Championship clash with the Terriers in mind, manager Nigel Clough elected not to include a number of senior players on the fringes of the first-team, such as James O’Connor and Ben Davies, while striker Theo Robinson missed out on a start against his former club due to illness.

Derby started on the back foot, and it was against the run of play that they broke the deadlock after 19 minutes, as Doyle forced the ball home from close range at the near post to catch the visitors out after a long spell of pressure.

However, the American’s strike was followed by further pressure on the Derby goal and Leonard went on to equalise six minutes before the break with a powerful drive from inside the penalty area.

The second half was relatively uneventful until the last 15 minutes, when Freeman’s corner flew directly into the far corner, courtesy of an assist by the wind in what were blustery conditions in Yorkshire.

Minutes later, substitute Hanson added a third with a powerful strike from the edge of the box to provide a two-goal cushion, although they were made to sweat in the latter stages when Crooks slid home from close range.

Next up for the Under 21s is a trip to Crewe Alexandra on Monday 11th February 2013.

Derby County U21 Line-Up: Deeney, Lelan, Hoganson, Dawkins, Gjokaj, Adams, Freeman, Dales, Bennett, Doyle, Wixted.

Subs: Thomas, Hanson, Morch.