Derby County Under-18s are through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup after a 2-1 victory over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
Goals from Kornell McDonald and Connor Dixon either side of half time sealed victory for the Rams, who have reached the fourth round for a second consecutive season.
The visitors took the lead midway through the first half, Jason Knight’s pass found the feet of McDonald, who exquisitely turned past two defenders and his venomous strike was too much for Tangerines goalkeeper Sam Kellett to handle.
Justin Walker’s side came close to doubling their lead twice on the brink of half-time. Firstly, Jordan Brown also got on the end of Morgan Whittaker’s in-swinging corner but was unable to steer his header on target. Moments later, Max Bird kick-started a scintillating passing move, and his setback for Whittaker ended with the forward’s driven effort flying over the woodwork.
Derby doubled their advantage early into the second half through Dixon, who scored during last season’s third round Youth Cup win over Manchester United at Pride Park. A shot from Whittaker was blocked by the home defence, only to fall in to the path of Dixon and he made no mistake in scoring from close range.
The hosts did receive a penalty in the final 15 minutes when Whittaker fouled Sean Graham in the area. However, Nathan Shaw’s spot-kick was expertly saved by Bradley Foster-Theniger.
With 10 minutes remaining, Blackpool did pull a goal back when Owen Watkinson headed in from point-blank range.
What’s To Come…
Victory for Derby puts them into the draw for the next round, with their next opponents yet to be decided.
Derby’s final match of 2018 sees them face a trip to Bodymoor Heath Training Ground to take on Aston Villa in their final group stage match in the Premier League Cup on Saturday.
After the turn of the year, they will host Manchester United in the Premier League – North at the Training Centre in Partnership with the University of Derby.
Aston Villa U18s Vs Derby County U18s- Saturday 8th December 2018 (kick-off: 11am)
Derby County U18s Vs Manchester United U18s- Saturday 12th January 2019 (kick-off: 12pm)
Blackburn Rovers U18s Vs Derby County U18s- Saturday 19th January 2019 (kick-off: 12:30pm)
Derby County U18s Vs Manchester City U18s- Saturday 2nd February 2019 (kick-off: 12pm)
Middlesbrough U18s Vs Derby County U18s- Saturday 23rd February 2019 (kick-off: 1pm)
Words by Jonty Colman