Derby County Under-18s will be hoping for a reaction this weekend as they search for their first three points in the Premier League – North this season.

As the young Rams head into their fourth fixture of the season against Middlesbrough, Justin Walker will be hoping that his side can achieve their first win in what is already shaping up to be a much tougher campaign in comparison to his last.

With one 3-1 and two 2-1 defeats in their opening three matches, Walker’s side have managed to score in every game they have played this season. The same can also be said for their upcoming opponents who have played one game fewer than Derby this season.

Middlesbrough sit one place above Derby in the league standings with their only point of the season so far coming from their draw with Derby’s last opponents, Newcastle United. The Rams fell victim to a narrow 2-1 defeat up North, whereas Middlesbrough were able to rescue a point in a dramatic 3-3 draw in the same away fixture on their opening day of the season.

Middlesbrough’s last game, though, was a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City resulting in Craig Liddle’s side conceding three goals in back-to-back fixtures; possibly a promising sign for a Derby team that haven’t managed to score more than once in a single game so far this season.

Walker will be hoping to turn his bad fortune around with a win against a side that they managed a double victory over last season. However, Middlesbrough were Derby’s undoing in the semi-final of the Premier League Under-18 Cup. A 119th minute goal in the dying embers of extra-time condemned Derby to the most disappointing of defeats.

Quite bizarrely, they managed to redeem themselves in the following game as they cruised to a 2-0 victory in the same fixture but in the League. That day, Javaun Splatt and, now first-teamer, Jason Knight scored the goals in the last meeting between the two sides.

Walker has called for his team to show the same drive, determination and character that his team demonstrated last season. A result similar to that of last season wouldn’t go a miss either.

Words by: Joseph Lightfoot