Rams' Under-21s seal first league victory of new campaign.Derby County Under-21s recorded their first victory of the new 2013/14 season at the Training Centre this afternoon, as goals from Valentin Gjokaj, Max Lowe (2) and Andy Dales sealed a 4-2 victory over Coventry City.
Gjokaj’s diving header inside five minutes got the Rams off to a flying start, as he stooped to nod in Michael Jacobs’ corner – after Mason Bennett had seen his low drive well held by goalkeeper Lee Burge.
Bennett then had a header well saved by Burge following another Jacobs set-piece, before the former Northampton winger himself forced the goalkeeper into action with a curling 20-yard free-kick.
The midfielder’s effort was superbly clawed away by Burge in what was a dominant first-half from the hosts.
England Under-17s international Max Lowe was brought on for his first competitive action at Under-21 level at half-time, in place of Rhys Sharpe, and the 16-year-old was in the thick of the action straight away, as his pass found Dales, who in turn fed Bennett clean through on goal, but the Academy graduate could only screw his effort wide of goal.
Coventry striker Mathieu Manset then forced Mats Morch into a fine stop after a determined run and shot, but the Rams’ riposte to the Frenchman’s effort was emphatic.
In the 52nd minute, Bennett galloped down the left hand side, prior to cutting the ball back for Lowe at the far post, and the teenager was on hand to coolly side-foot past Burge.
Lowe’s volley sparked a goal frenzy, as within four minutes, Coventry halved the deficit when Manset hurtled past two Derby defender’s before curling an exquisite finish from a tight angle, into the top corner.
Then in the 59th minute, the Sky Blues found themselves level. An unfortunate slip from Luke Hendrie allowed Ben Maunds a clear sight of goal. His effort was initially well kept out by Morch, but Louis Garner poked the rebound in from inside the six-yard box.
Garner’s strike was the third goal in seven minutes, which was soon four in eight when Charles Vernam’s cross was collected by Dales, who calmly picked his spot and rolled the ball beyond Burge.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Rams’ Under-21s restored their two goal advantage and sealed the three points, when Lowe cut in from the right and fired an explosive effort into the roof of the net.
Derby County U21s: Morch (GK), Hendrie, Gjokaj, Lelan, Hoganson, Jacobs (Wassall 67’), Dawkins, Dales, Sharpe (Lowe 46’), Vernam, Bennett (Thomas 64’).
Subs Not Used: Etheridge (GK), Hanson.
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