Derby County’s Under-23s took a crucial step towards Premier League 2 – Division 1 safety as Jayden Bogle’s second-half goal secured a 1-0 victory against West Ham United.
The three points took Darren Wassall’s side out of the relegation zone with one game to play, whilst there was also encouragement for Gary Rowett with regards to his first-team picture.
Jonathan Mitchell, Jamie Hanson and George Thorne all completed the full game, with Richard Keogh playing 45 minutes.
Luke Thomas started in the No.10 role in behind Cameron Cresswell and he roamed freely in the opening stages, but it was Thorne that came closest to breaking the deadlock with a volley from Hanson’s corner.
Marcus Browne was a threatening presence for the visitors and he went close midway through the half, but Jonathan Mitchell was equal to his curling effort.
Thorne then placed another strike just wide before Keogh – playing in a defensive midfield role – forced Nathan Trott into a save.
Rowett’s captain was replaced at half-time by Alex Babos and the forward made an instant impact just eight minutes into the second period.
After picking up Cresswell’s flick on, Babos turned and played a perfectly weighted through ball into the path of the advancing Bogle, which placed a neat finish beyond Trott and into the corner.
Cresswell had a great chance to double the lead soon after but his header was comfortable for Trott, and he had another sight of goal when Thomas won the ball back in a forward position, but he couldn’t connect cleanly.
Thomas saw his brilliant curling effort tipped over in the dying moments, but in the end Bogle’s strike was enough to take Derby two points clear of Sunderland, whilst the result also confirmed Manchester United’s relegation.
Derby County: Mitchell; Bateman, Wassall, Buchanan; Bogle, Thorne, Keogh (Babos, HT), Hanson, Ejoma (Sibley, 67’); Thomas (Bird, 90’); Cresswell.
Substitutes not used: Barnes, Walker.
West Ham United: Trott; Johnson, Akinola, Pask (Alese, 9'), Neufville; Coventry, Lewis (Afolayan, 66'); Haksabanovic (Scully, 79'), Quina, Holland; Browne.
Substitutes not used: Powell, Anang.
Babos looked bright after stepping off the bench but huge credit must go to Cresswell in the lead-up to the goal.
The striker battled all game and when he won his aerial duel, it gave Babos the opportunity to turn and find the run of Bogle, who made no mistake as he ran through one-on-one with Trott.
Wassall set up his team in a 3-5-2 formation and the onus was on Aaron Ejoma and Bogle to provide width, but it was a swift run inside from the latter that provided the crucial moment of a tight game.
As well as showing composure in front of goal, Bogle provided solidity down the right flank as the Rams sat deep later in the game to secure the vital points.
The Rams head to the King Power Stadium for their final game of the season against Leicester City on Monday 23rd April, kick-off: 7pm.