An in-from Derby County Under-18 side will host Middlesbrough at the Moor Farm Training Centre in the second round of the Under-18 Premier League Cup.
The boost of progressing through the next round of the UEFA Youth Cup could prove to be the difference as Justin Walker’s side head into this Saturday’s cup clash. The young Rams proceeded to the next round of the European competition in Loughborough, beating FC Minsk 7-2 in the second leg to prevail with an emphatic aggregate score of 9-2.
That win, was their fifth consecutively and powered Walker’s side up to sixth place in the Premier League – North. It was a run that started with a 4-3 victory over Reading in the first round of the competition, inspired by the performance of Archie Brown who scored two goals – one either side of half time – to help the Rams progress to the next round.
Haven’t we met before
Now, though, Walker faces the same opponents that knocked him out of the same competition last season. That’s right, Derby faced Middlesbrough three times last season and came out on top in both results in the league, winning 3-2 and 2-0 at home and away respectively. However, in the semi-final of the cup, they fell victim to a 120th minute winner on their travels up north.
The crushing defeat stopped Walker’s side from winning the double, so there is no doubt he will be looking to make amends at Moor Farm on Saturday.
Players in from
Derby County have a plethora of players in good form as they head into this second-round cup tie. Brown has scored three in his last two matches in all competitions, including an absolute rocket in the side’s 3-0 win over Sunderland in their last match at their stomping ground.
Though, there is perhaps no other Derby player more confident than Jack Stretton at the moment. The striker struggled at the beginning of the season and went four games without hitting the back of the net, only for the number 10 to go on to score four goals in his last two fixtures after back-to-back braces against Sunderland and Minsk.
Across the UEFA Youth League and the Premier League – North, Stretton has hit eight goals in nine games and will be looking to get off the mark in yet another competition.
Middlesbrough haven’t been in great from themselves. They head to Derby with just one win from their opening seven matches. The side have drawn more games than any other team in the division (3); two of which, came in their last two league games against Stoke City and Manchester United. Of course, it might be worth mentioning that the Rams came out 5-1 victors when they met with the latter side at Moor Farm earlier in the season.
Words by: Joseph Lightfoot