Under-21s cut Leicester's lead at the top following victory over Blades.Derby County Under-21s halved Leicester City’s lead at the top of the Professional Development League Two North to three points with a 2-0 victory over Sheffield United at Moor Farm.
Two spectacular strikes from Ayrton Wassall and Michael Hoganson sealed all three points for Andy Garner’s men, in a game that saw Derby name a line-up that mainly consisted of Academy players following a bout of injuries.
It was the hosts who started the brightest, pressing the Blades heavily and forcing them into errors, and the Under-21s were almost rewarded for their intense pressure when Kurtis Revan hassled Jordan Hodder into a mistake, stripping the ball off the defender before breaking into the box and firing a low shot past George Willis’ far post.
And on 21 minutes, the energetic display from the home side crafted an opening for Wassall, who chested the ball down from 25-yards before sending a dipping volley into the roof of the net.
However, the visitors had three clear cut opportunities following Wassall’s opener to get themselves back on level terms, as defender Aaron Berry had a close-range header hacked off the line by Joshua Nash, prior to Jordan Chapell going close with stinging low drive from distance.
The best chance of the half for the visitors arrived in the 43rd minute when Erik Tonne’s powerful 30-yard free-kick was superbly clawed away by Saul Deeney, before striker Joe Ironside put the rebound over from eight-yards out.
Both sides created opportunities in the second period, but it was Derby who struck first at a foggy Moor Farm nine minutes after the interval, through Hoganson’s unstoppable free-kick.
The former Newcastle United defender, who has made three starts for the Rams' first-team this season went one better than Wassall, when he sent a 30-yard strike into the top corner.
Chris Morgan’s men pushed for a way back into the game and were unfortunate not to halve the deficit midway through the second half when Ironside’s aesthetically pleasing volley inside the penalty area was ruled out for an offside decision by referee Ben Cooke.
Norwegian winger Tonne also saw a fierce drive beaten away by Deeney in the final quarter, before Jahmal Smith dragged a glorious chance wide when played through, but the Rams stood firm to ensure they bounced back from a 3-0 defeat to Crewe Alexandra with maximum points.
Derby County: Deeney; Nash, Adams, Rawson, Hoganson; Clennett (Tuite 75), Doyle, Wassall, Revan; Johnson, Carrigy.