Rams end season with a draw.
Derby County Under-21s ended their 2012/13 campaign with a 0-0 stalemate at Wigan Athletic this afternoon.
The result leaves the Rams level on points with Huddersfield Town in the race for second place, although the Terriers have one more league fixture remaining, against Leeds United on Monday afternoon.
In a tightly contested game at the Robin Park Arena, the hosts perhaps edged proceedings, although the Premier League outfit did find it hard to break down a stubborn Rams’ side, which included the first-team experience of Michael Hoganson, Conor Doyle, Valentin Gjokaj and James O’Connor.
The Rams had Mats Morch to thank for their clean sheet, as the Norwegian goalkeeper pulled off a number of key saves in the second half, to keep Wigan at bay.
The Latics almost took the lead within the opening two minutes when Jesjua Angoy dribbled his way into the penalty area, but his cut-back was not met with the same quality, as Rakish Bingham missed the ball completely.
Eight minutes later the lively Danny Redmond had his cross deflect behind for a corner, before Callum Morris saw his stinging strike blocked from the resulting set-piece by Josh Lelan.
Derby’s best chance of the half fell to Academy striker Charles Vernam inside the first quarter of an hour. The former Scunthorpe United forward turned well inside the home side’s penalty area but could only fire wide of goal.
A scrappy midfield battle ensued before the Latics’ Bingham displayed a sign of quality when he collected the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the area, prior to turning and sending a low drive agonisingly wide.
In the second-half, Sam Smith fired a low shot across the face of goal for the visitors, whilst Ryan Watson swept an effort over from 20-yards, before Guillermo Andres forced Morch into a smart save.
In the final eight minutes Morch got his body behind Joseph Johnson’s fierce strike and reacted well to force his way through a crowd of bodies to punch Redmond’s dangerous free-kick clear, as the Rams' first season in the Professional Development League Two came to an end.
Wigan Athletic U21s: Marosi; Campabadal (Sumner, 72), Boothman, Morris, Buxton, Wilson, Watson, Phillips, Bingham (Andres, 61), Angoy (Johnson, 61), Redmond.
Subs not used: Hare, Ainscough.
Derby County U21s: Morch; Lelan, Gjokaj, Adams, Hoganson (Rawson, 25); Dales, O'Connor, Doyle, Smith (Revan, 84); Thomas, Vernam (Wassall, 75).
Subs not used: Etheridge, Hayes.