Derby County Under-23s fell to a 2-1 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League 2 Division 1.

It was a battle of the second and third-placed teams in the league with just a point separating the two ahead of the game with the Rams just behind.

After Derby came out 1-0 winners in the return fixture earlier in the season, goals from Bojan Radulovic and Soufyan gyokeres handed the Seagulls all three points at the People’s Pension Stadium.

Cameron Cresswell pulled one back for the Rams in the final minute as he coolly slotted in from the penalty spot with his fifth goal in two games.

Darren Wasall’s side were without Max Bird and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson following their involvement with the first-team on the over the weekend.

The Rams dominated possession in opening stages with Louie Sibley trying his luck from range, calling Robert Sanchez into action early before Josh Shonibare intercepted a poor back pass by the Seagulls. However, Kellan Gordon’s shot from the winger’s cross was blocked.

Josh Barnes made a superb stop in the 25th minute when he was faced one-on-one with Viktor Gyokeres but the Rams’ stoppers knee sent the Seagulls forwards shot wide.

A minute later, however and the hosts took the lead. Barnes managed to get his fingertips to a long ball into the area by Archie Davies, but the ball landed to Radulovic at the far post to slot in.

Cameron Cresswell looked to equalise with a free-kick effort from 20-yards out but it was a comfortable save for Sanchez.

A minute before the break, the hosts doubled their lead when Alex Cochranesent a pinpoint ball towards Ahannach in front of goal which the forward headed in.

Again, the Rams began the half strong, looking to find a way back in. Cresswell fired just wide as me met a cross before great work by Kellan Gordon to run on to a through ball saw his shot distinguished by Sanchez who dropped down on his close-range effort.

In the final minute of the game, Max Hunt was brought down in the area by Leo Ostigard and the Rams were handed a lifeline. Cresswell stepped up to the spot and tucked his effort away into the bottom left corner.

Derby pushed to the end for the equaliser but were unable to find it. Despite the loss, they remain in third and have a chance to quickly bounce back when they take on Liverpool on Friday.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Sanchez, A. Davies, Cochrane (C), Roberts, Ostigard, O’hora, J. Davies (Spong, 62), Molumby, Radulovic (Longman, 86), Gyorores, Ahannach

Unused Subs: Moore, Collings, Ljubiacic

Derby County: Barnes, Gordon, Macdonald (C), Bateman, Wassall, Hunt, Anya, Babos, Cresswell, Sibley (Roache, 55), Shonibare

Unused Subs: Wilson, Yates, Knight, Karic