Derby County Under-18s manager Justin Walker was left proud by his side’s performance during their 2-1 win away at Liverpool.
The Rams’ goals came via Morgan Whittaker and Jason Knight either side of half-time on Friday evening, but they were forced to play the majority of the second half with only 10 men, after defender Eiran Cashin was shown a second yellow card shortly after the restart.
Victory for the Rams came as a result a lot of valiant defending late on from the back line, which ended Liverpool’s 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
It also moved Derby up to third in the Premier League – North standings, just a point behind Liverpool and it was a performance that Walker was delighted by.
He told dcfc.co.uk “I’m really proud of the players, their attitude, discipline, work ethic, everything we pride ourselves on at the club, in the academy and throughout the club was on show tonight.
“They were magnificent, and they are an honest bunch of players who give you everything and have some real talent. We had pace and power and they were willing to run for each other both ways and I thought we could have probably gone on and scored more goals.
“Liverpool are a very, very good team and there is no doubt about that, whatever level you play them at. This is another step in the right direction for us and the players can be proud of their work.
“We have come on leaps and bounds since the start of the season; I am proud of the performance.”
Amongst the travelling party to Kirkby were four under-18s players who were not part of the matchday squad.
Jack Stretton, Sam French, Jaden Charles and Lee Buchanan have all featured heavily for Walker’s side this term, and he felt that their added support was a testament to the whole togetherness in and around his group.
“Their togetherness is great”, he added. “There are loads of personalities and characters within that team.
“They don’t lay down, they give you everything.”
Walker also praised a number of his players’ individual performances away from home, including both of Derby’s goal scorers.
“We had some outstanding individual performances tonight.
“I thought Tyree [Wilson] was magnificent, he played in different positions and different roles.
“Max Bird was a major influence in the game, Jason Knight was a major influence in the game, it was nice to see Morgan Whittaker score a goal and get inside the box and the back line were superb; I could go through the whole team.”
Words by Jonty Colman