Pat Lyons heaped praise on Derby County’s Under-23 squad following their 3-3 draw on the road against Liverpool.
The Rams came from behind twice in the game and maybe could have won it late on in a topsy-turvy affair at the Liverpool Academy Stadium.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner put the Reds ahead before Morgan Whittaker had a penalty saved for the Rams. Skipper Max Bird did equalise soon after before Whittaker shook off his earlier disappointment by putting Derby ahead in the second half.
Jordan Brown put past his own goalkeeper to equalise for the Reds before Curtis Jones scored to put Liverpool ahead with 10 minutes of the game remaining.
However, after substitute Josh Shonibare was fouled in the penalty area, Jahmal Hector-Ingram converted a penalty to ensure the points were shared.
“As an Academy, we have come over here over the years and we have only lost once,” Lyons told dcfc.co.uk. “We have won two and drawn today, and lost a couple of years ago, so it does go to show how far we have come.
“We are playing against these top Premier League clubs and world-renowned clubs and it’s great for the lads to be tested against these players. All we want them to do is enjoy it and have a go and see what they can do.
“We were really pleased with the players in the second half. We showed a lot of enthusiasm, character, grit and determination, we were a lot better out of possession and we created a lot of opportunities.
“We know with their quality that they are going to create decent chances. It was disappointing to be ahead and then them draw level and go behind but we showed good character and resilience to get back in the game.
“It was another penalty to equalise, we’d already missed one, so there was pressure on it but Jahmal stepped up and did well. Even after that moment, there were moments in the game where it could have gone either way so to come here and get a point is brilliant.”
Although a number of players impressed for the Rams this afternoon, one man was singled out for special praise by Lyons.
“I thought Louie Sibley was outstanding today,” he admitted. “I thought the way he made things happen, drove with the ball, went past players with ease and with high quality, and the only thing missing from his game was a goal.
“He had a few chances which he should have scored but if he keeps doing what he’s doing then the goals will come. I’m sure he will continue to do well and be a part of the first team.”
And despite registering a point on the road against one of the biggest teams in the country, Lyons was still disappointed not to win the game, which shows how far the Rams have come.
“We have a good team spirit and one thing we want to be known for is that we have a proper go at these big teams,” he said.
“When we saw the fixture list, we knew the first six games were going to be tough, and for us to sit here and say we are unbeaten in four and we only lost the first game of the season in the last five minutes, is credit to all the players and staff for the jobs they are doing.
“It’s outstanding so long may it continue. We have a busy period coming up. We have Manchester City next week and then we are in the international cup.
“The European competition is coming and I know a couple of the players will be involved so it’s great and something the players can relish and enjoy. Let’s see what the next few games hold.”