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Derby County’s Under-23s fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat on Monday evening at Pride Park Stadium in a tight game of very few chances against reigning Premier League 2 Division 1 champions Everton.

Notably, Craig Forsyth, Jason Shackell and Mason Bennett all featured for the entirety of the fixture. Max Bird and Callum Guy also returned to the pitch for Derby’s Under-23s after making their professional debut’s last week against Barnsley.

George Thorne also started this fixture, but was forced off after just 15 minutes due to illness.

On a wet night at Pride Park, Everton began strongly with their intense pressing game and didn’t allow the Rams to settle into their possession-based game.

Chances came at a premium, however. Emil Riis Jakobsen, who replaced Thorne, had the hosts’ first attempt with a low shot that drifted well wide.

At the other end, and on 20 minutes, Dennis Adeniran found a way through into the box and had only the ‘keeper to beat, but a brave dive from Jonathan Mitchell blocked any way through for the forwards effort.

By this point, Everton were well on top. Five minutes later, David Henen missed another big opportunity for his side to take lead after he sent a close-range effort glaring over the crossbar.

And just before the half-an-hour mark it was third time lucky for the Toffees after Charsley found the back of the net at Mitchell’s far post from tight angle to clinch a deserved advantage.

Chances continued to be limited for Derby up until half-time with their best opportunity before the interval coming from a set piece on 45 minutes when a succession of chances from around the box was concluded with a wide effort from Alex Babos.

Far better in the second half, Derby applied far more pressure on Joe Hilton’s goal, but were ultimately frustrated by a workman-like Everton team that gave very little away.

Forsyth glanced a header wide from a free-kick, whilst Alex Babos had the best of the chances of a slick passing move, but his effort was directed wide.

There was plenty of huff and puff, but the Rams couldn’t break down the blue wall that faced them as they fell to a fourth defeat from five matches.

Derby County U23s: Mitchell, Stabana, Forsyth, Thorne (Jakobsen, 14; Zanzala, 62), Wassall, Shackell, Thomas, Guy (Bateman, 46), Bennett, Bird, Babos

Substitutes not used: Barnes, Macdonald

Everton U23s: Hilton, Jones, Garbutt, Baningime, Feeney, Gibson, Evans, Charsley, Sambou (Donkor, 74), Adeniran (Foulds, 74), Henen (Markello, 85)

Substitutes not used: Hansen, Broadhead

Who Impressed…

Two players in particular impressed under the floodlights at Pride Park – one of the them being Jonathan Mitchell, who made a handful of impressive saves, particularly in the first-half, to keep the Rams in the game heading into the interval.

Our player of the night, though, for a second consecutive fixture was Luke Thomas as he looked like Derby’s most threatening player throughout the entire 90 minutes.

Never afraid to take on his full back, he continuously attempted to make bursts forward and make things happen.

Major Moment…

Suffering a 1-0 defeat, the major moment in this game was, of course, Everton’s 29th minute goal, which came courtesy of a composed strike from Charsley on the edge of box.

It gave the reigning Premier League 2 champions something to hold on and it ultimately became a very frustrating night for Wassall’s men.

Though Derby huffed and puffed throughout the second-half, robust defending from an intelligent Toffees side ensured they left with all three points to maintain their own solid start to the 2017/18 season.

What’s Next…

Another difficult test in Manchester United now awaits Wassall’s side as the Under-23s travel to Leigh Sports Village for more floodlit action on Friday evening.

The test against the Red Devils is the Rams’ last taste of Premier League 2 Division 1 football until 16th October to make way for the Premier League Cup next week.

Pos Pld GD Pts
1 Portsmouth 45 35 94
2 Derby County 45 39 89
3 Bolton Wanderers 45 35 86
4 Peterborough United 45 28 83
5 Barnsley 45 18 75
6 Lincoln City 45 27 74
7 Oxford United 45 22 74
8 Blackpool 45 18 73
View full table