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Derby County’s Under-23s fell to a 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa in the Premier League Cup at Loughborough University Stadium.

The victory extends the reigning tournament champions lead at the top of the group, while Derby have collected a point from the opening two group fixtures.

The two sides remained relatively even throughout the game, with the Rams slightly having the edge on opportunities created. However, a tap in by substitute Harvey Knibbs secure the three points for Villa.

Derby got off to a good start in the cup clash, dominating the opening ten minutes, however it was Villa who got the first look at goal. Corey Taylor flashed a low shot across goal from the right but Henrich Ravas was there to meet it and palm out for a corner.

Louie Sibley had a number of first-half efforts, his first from the left of the box after breaking through but Matija Sarkic did well to meet it.

Minutes later and the young Rams were on the attack again. George Thorne slipped the ball through to Jayden Mitchell-Lawson which the forward chased down and managed nab in a cross from a tight angle before it went out. His dangerous cross intended for Cameron Cresswell was grabbed by Villa’s ‘Keeper.

The sides remained evenly matched and chances to break the deadlock came sparingly. Ravas was called in to action and made a great stop to keep it level on the half-hour mark when Rushian Hepburn-Murphy cut-back before drilling a shot towards Ravas, who instinctively knocked it away on to the post and out.

After a well-matched first-half, it was Derby who came out after the break looking to attack. The opening ten minutes were occupied mostly in Villa’s half but the Rams weren’t able to carve out a solid chance. The closest was off Thorne’s corners when Max Hunt glanced a header wide.

The resulting goal-kick lead to the visiting side’s best opportunity of the opening stages as Jack Clarke made a break into the area, but as he looked to feed it wide, young right-back Jordan Brown swooped in to clear the threat.

Villa broke the deadlock with just over 20 minutes to play when Harvey Knibbs slotted home from close range moments after replacing an injured Hepburn-Murphy.

The Rams quickly responded and almost drew level soon after. Morgan Whittaker, having just come off the bench, whipped a cross in to Mitchell-Lawson who’s volley was sent just over.

A flurry of chances then came as Derby kept pushing. Sibley slipped through the backline before firing a close-range shot that was comfortably saved. Thorne attempted a long-range low drive and his effort deflected off the keeper’ who managed to recover before Josh Shonibare could capitalise.

The home side were unable to find the equaliser and Villa took all three points and control of the group.

Derby County: Ravas, Brown, Karic (Knight, 85), Thorne, Hunt, Buchanan, Mitchell-Lawson, Bird (C), Cresswell (Shonibare, 75), Sibley, Eyoma (Whittaker, 69)

Unused Subs: Barnes, Rashid,

Aston Villa: Sarkic, Walker, Rowe, Bazeley, Bedeau, Clarke, Taylor, Doyle-Hayes, Hepburn-Murphy (Knibbs, 66), Prosser, O’Hare

Unused Subs: Lomax, Cox, Revan

Pos Pld GD Pts
18 Coventry City 24 -12 26
19 Birmingham City 25 -12 26
20 Nottingham Forest 25 -9 25
21 Derby County 24 -10 22
22 Rotherham United 22 -9 20
23 Sheffield Wednesday 23 -8 19
24 Wycombe Wanderers 23 -19 15
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