Derby County’s Under 18s began their Premier League North Campaign in style on Saturday afternoon by recording a 4-0 win over Manchester United.

A goal from Luke Thomas in the game’s early stages was then followed by a superb hat trick from Cameron Cresswell, as the Rams picked up all three points in the first fixture of their 2016/17 league season.

In what was a thrilling game, Justin Walker and Rory Delap’s side began the contest as they meant to go on – moving the ball quick on the break and looking to catch the visiting side off-guard.

It took just seven minutes for the hosts to break the deadlock. It was Thomas who got his name on the scoresheet after a great work from Adam Davie inside the box to hold the ball up and cross for Thomas to tap home past Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui.

Following the goal, chances dried up for both sides and a battle for possession began in the middle of the pitch.

On 27 minutes, a short back pass in Derby’s half allowed the Red Devils to break on the counter – luckily for the Rams, though, the chance was sent wide.

Minutes later, the action relocated to the other end of the pitch after Cresswell laid the ball off for Thomas – however, a heavy touch from outside the area resulted in his shot being blasted against post and out of play.

Five minutes before half time, Cresswell netted his first of the game, seizing on a United error. The lively wideman managed to steal the ball from the ‘keeper to slot ball home and double his side’s lead shortly before the half time interval.

After the break, the Rams picked up where they left off, though determined defending from the visitors meant that they were unable to add to the scoreline in the early stages.

With the game approaching the hour mark, United experienced their most attacking spell of the game, but were met by robust defending from the Rams, leaving their threat neutralised.

In the 64th minute, Cresswell regained possession for his side and orchestrated a dangerous counter attack, running almost the length of the pitch with the ball.

As Cresswell pierced the Red Devils’ area, a late tackle saw the wideman brought down in the area. The referee pointed straight to the spot and Cresswell converted from 12 yards in impressive fashion – putting the ball in the top right corner and sending the ‘keeper in the opposite direction.

Briefly, United reacted well, with Indy Boonen hitting Matt Yates’ crossbar from just outside the Rams’ area in the 71st minute.

Derby, though, continued to utilise their dangerous counter attack and it was just six minutes later that the Rams were awarded another penalty after Jahvan Davidson-Miller was brought down inside United’s area.

The referee reduced the Red Devils to ten men and Cresswell stepped up to the spot for the chance to make it a hat trick. He was unable to convert this time around, though, as his effort hit the bar and bounced out of play.

However, with four minutes remaining, Cresswell, a first-year scholar, completed his hat trick to round off what was a very impressive performance. Davidson-Miller was rewarded with an assist after a good run down the right wing and an inch perfect cross allowed Cresswell to head the ball into the net.

Derby County U18s: Yates, Bogle, Mills, Wise, Bateman (C), Rashid, Jibodu, Edwards, Davie, Thomas, Cresswell

Substitutes: Davidson-Miller, Fryatt, Thorne, Carter-Thompson, Goode

Manchester United U18s: Moutha-Sebaoui, Tanner, Kenyon, Sang, Warren, Whelan, Bohui, Hamilton, Dearnley, Gomes, Chong

Substitutes: Buffonge, Thompson, Boonen, Dunne, Barlow

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