Derby's Under-21s seal third consecutive victory.Derby County U21s overcame arch rivals Nottingham Forest 2-1 on Friday evening, to notch up their third successive win in the Professional Development League North Division.
The Rams fielded a line-up including Valentin Gjokaj and Michael Hoganson, whilst the Reds had Simon Gillett, who has been a first team regular in recent seasons, along with player-coach Jonathan Greening in their starting XI.
The game started as a very cagey affair with both teams giving little away, although Forest slightly edged the stakes with seasoned midfielder Gillett pulling the strings in midfield.
It took 20 minutes for the Rams to register their first attempt on goal, as Andrew Dales cut in from the left-hand side only to see his shot sail wide of the post.
With the majority of the game seeming to be played in the middle third, it was Rams striker Kwame Thomas who began to take the match by the scruff of the neck, as his header from a Jamie Hanson corner marked the visitor’s first effort on target.
With Derby now beginning to take the game to their rivals, it was former Newcastle United left-back Hoganson who delivered a couple of teasing crosses in behind the Forest back four, only to see no one on the end of them.
However, after referee Mark Billingham waved away protests from Forest winger Derrick Otim for a penalty, the Rams’ pressure finally paid off. Hoganson saw off a challenge before delivering a superb low cross, which found the head of Thomas, and the striker guided his header past Forest ‘keeper Ross Durrant to put the Rams 1-0 up going into the half-time break.
As the second half began, the game appeared to be more open as Gillett crashed a long-range effort goalwards, before a swift counter attack from the Rams resulted in striker Thomas having a shot saved a point blank range from Durrant.
However, just a minute later the Rams paid the price for not doubling their advantage. Full-back Luke Hendrie stuck out a leg to bring down James Demetriou inside the penalty area, which saw the referee Bingham point to the spot.
It was then Demetriou that comfortably converted from 12-yards out; slotting the ball past Mats Morch into the bottom left corner to level the score.
With Forest’s tails now up, it was Demetriou again who tested the Rams’ goal, only to see Morch pull off a fine save low to his right.
The Rams soon settled, and began to look dangerous on the counter attack, and it was from a breakaway that saw Derby regain the lead. With the ball bobbling around on the edge of the box a low powerful shot from Dales stung the hands of Durrant. The shot-stopper palmed the ball straight into the path of Max Lowe, who slotted home from six-yards out to put Lee Glover’s men back in the driving seat.
With the game now entering its last third, neither team seemed to be posing any real threat on their opponent’s goal, with a Hoganson strike from the edge of the box the only notable effort heading into the last 10 minutes of the game.
The closing stages continued in the same vein, as the young Rams saw off any real attempt from Forest to level the scores, with all members of the team delivering an impressive defensive performance.
Derby Under-21 Coach Glover will now be looking for his side to extend their winning run, when they play hosts to Hull City on 21st October in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
Forest: Durrant, Morgan, Kelly (Kamaneno 76’), Gillett, Worrall, Greening, Blake, Otim, Demetriou, Osborn, Grant (Wallace 62’) Subs not used: Myles, Gnahore, Polimos.
Derby: Morch, Hendrie, Hoganson, Gjokaj, Hanson, Dawkins, Wassall, Dales, Vernam, Lowe, Thomas.
Subs not used: Berry, Hayes, Sharpe, Wixted, Girvin.
Pictures courtesy of Nottingham Forest Football Club.
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