Rams' Under-21s maintain title push with victory over Barnsley.Derby County’s Under-21s continue to snap at the heels of table toppers Leicester City, although the Rams were made to work hard against the elements and a determined Barnsley side.
An own goal from former Rams trialist John Rooney gifted Derby the lead in the 58th minute, before Academy prospect Jamie Hanson curled home a terrific free-kick to seal the three points and maintain the pressure on League leaders Leicester.
A bout of rain, sleet and freezing cold wind combined with a heavy pitch at Barnsley’s Oakwell Academy ensured both teams were in for in for a battle.
However, Derby could have been ahead as early as the fifth minute when Michael Jacobs’ left-wing cross evaded both the onrushing Adam Wixted and Kwame Thomas at the far post.
Barnsley, though, responded and had the better of the first-half chances with the lively Danny Rose drawing fine saves from Ross Atkins in the Rams’ goal, before Reuben Noble-Lazarus, Brad Kilburn and Toni Silva were all guilty of spurning further opportunities for the hosts in the opening 45 minutes.
The Rams began the second half brightly, as American youth international Conor Doyle dragged two almost identical efforts wide from the edge of the penalty area, within the space of two minutes.
But the next opportunity the Rams had to breach the host’s defence proved fruitful, as Michael Hoganson’s corner was flicked on by Thomas at the near post, before rebounding off the unfortunate Rooney into the net.
Jacobs and Andy Dales both had tame strikes from the edge of the area comfortably held by former Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Ben Alnwick, prior to Hanson killing the game off when his beautifully flighted free-kick nestled into the top corner from 20-yards.
Rooney came close to halving the deficit in the final 10 minutes, but the midfielder could not match the exploits of Hanson, as his free-kick from 30-yards was clawed away by Atkins.
Derby County: Atkins; Hayes, Lelan, Hanson, Hoganson; Wixted (Sharpe 65), Smith, Dales, Jacobs; Doyle, Thomas.
Subs not used: Morch, Rawson, Wassall.