For Derby County’s Under 23s, the fight to remain in Premier League 2 Division 1 is well and truly on, and with just two games to go, Friday’s trip to Southampton is crucial.Darren Wassall’s side will make the trip down to St Mary’s on the south coast for their penultimate league fixture of the season on Friday night, kick-off: 7pm.
Last time out, the Rams suffered a bruising 4-1 defeat at the hands of second-placed Manchester City, however it was a game that could have turned out very differently.
Reflecting on the performance, defender Calum Macdonald told dcfc.co.uk: “I think we started better against Man City than they thought we would do.
“We played really well in the first half and shocked them, so much so that they changed their formation at half-time and that took us by surprise.
“Ultimately, we couldn’t hit the heights in the second half that we did before and that’s what cost us the game.
“Manchester City needed to win the game to keep in touch with Everton at the top of the league, so we knew that they were going to come out fighting.
“We just had to start the second half better and if we’d have got the next goal they would have found it extremely difficult to find a way back into the game.”
That result now has placed extra emphasis on the trip to Southampton.
Just four points separate the entire bottom half of Premier League 2 Division 1 and the Saints are just three points ahead of the Rams ahead of Friday night’s meeting.
Southampton are still not safe of relegation themselves and so the pressure will be on for both teams as they look to secure their top-flight status for next season.
With so much riding on the contest, Macdonald spoke of the importance of getting the job done - particularly after putting together such a strong string of results since the turn of the New Year.
The Scottish Under 21 international added: “It’s been spoken about a lot and we know that we are in a position where we feel we need to get three points because a draw is not going to be good enough.
“We haven’t got an easy game on the last day of the season, so three points are huge and we have to get the win.
“I’ve played in games before where we’ve need to win, such as last year against Arsenal to go up – but this is a different sort of challenge. The punch if you lose is a lot different.
“Since January, we all feel as though we’ve been playing well and we are in a position that, before the start of the year, we didn’t think we’d be in.
“We have picked up a lot of positive results and if we’d started how we’ve finished the season – we wouldn’t be where we are now. We just have to finish the job.
“We’ve got ourselves in a good position, it’s just about making the most of the hard work that we’ve put in over the last few weeks.”
U23 Preview: Southampton (A)
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