Derby County Under-18s manager Justin Walker highlighted the character within his squad following his side’s 3-2 win over Stoke City on Saturday.
The Rams held the lead at half-time through Connor Dixon’s early opener, but they would find themselves behind following two quick second-half goals from the hosts.
However, Morgan Whittaker levelled the game with 15 minutes remaining and the winger was then in the right place at the right time to net a crucial winner in the dying seconds.
The win made it eight consecutive league victories for Walker’s side and he highlighted the positive traits shown by his side:
Speaking to dcfc.co.uk, he said: “It’s always good to win a game like that when you’ve not played too well.
“It gave a massive boost for the players and showed the character and never say die attitude that this group have got.
“They never lie down and we’ve spoken about that character throughout the whole season. Sometimes after a magnificent performance and result – like Liverpool last week – you might not play at your maximum.
“But what they have shown today is that they have fantastic character, they will keep going and will keep driving each other on.”
It proved to be a highly competitive game at the Clayton Wood Training Ground and Derby were made to work hard to earn their win in the final stages.
Reflecting on the type of performance that his side had to put in, Walker outlined the good work that the Rams put in off the ball.
He said: “When you’re on the back foot, not getting your own way or playing as well, there’s certain things you can do as an individual.
“If a player isn’t playing at the top of their game, they need to certainly make sure that the opponent that they are playing against also comes up against some challenges in terms of their performance.
“Every man stood up to the challenge today and there were a lot of mistakes, which is normal in youth football.
“On the whole, I’m proud of the resilience that they showed.”
The progress shown by the Under-18s this season has seen them battling for the Premier League – North title with five league games remaining.
With so much still to play for, Walker outlined what his side still need to learn in the final stages of the campaign.
He said: “We have to learn from today about managing games in key periods.
“We spoke about it in the FA Youth Cup against Manchester City, we spoke about it in the Premier League Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough where we played magnificently and got beaten 1-0.
“It’s swings and roundabouts in football. We’ll learn again from today and try to improve our levels of performance.
“Ultimately, the confidence, the winning mentality and the resilience that these boys have shown was on show for everyone today.”