Derby County Under-18s extended their winning run in all competitions to four games as they beat Sunderland Under-18s 3-0 at the Academy of Light.
A brace from Jack Stretton and rocket from Archie Brown were enough to see off the hosts who have now lost all eight of their Premier League – North games this season.
While the young Rams finished the match at their brilliant best, it took them a while to get into the game as Sunderland were desperate to close every inch of space in the midfield.
A few half chances came and went for both sides and then the visitors clicked into gear with almost half an hour on the clock, passing the ball with real pace and intent. That soon became too much for the Black Cats as a great passage of play down the left wing ended with the ball being swung into the penalty area where Jack Stretton was poised to brilliantly head into the bottom corner.
On the stroke of half time the young striker then had a perfect opportunity to double his tally but he failed to convert Jaden Charles’ low cross.
The control that Derby had established continued into the second half as they subjected their opponents to wave after wave of attack that was providing no reward. Although their persistence did eventually pay off.
A failed cross was reworked out to the edge of the area where Archie Brown, who featured for the Under-23s on Friday night, was able to dance inside and thump a left-footed strike into the roof of the net, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
The home side’s frustrations began to show through a handful of rash tackles, one of which completely wiped out Kornell McDonald in the 18-yard box leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot. Stretton stepped up, placed the ball on the penalty spot and hammered it into the net, ending the game as a contest.
The Rams refused to slow their intensity sensing the opportunity of more goals but the increasingly wet conditions made it hard to keep the ball under control as players from both teams began to lose their footing with regularity.
Justin Walker’s side comfortably saw out the game and go into Tuesday’s game in excellent form.
What’s to come…
Up next for the Young Rams is a European clash against FC Minsk in the second leg of their UEFA Youth League first round qualifying tie at Loughborough University on Tuesday night.
It comes three weeks after the first leg where they came away from Belarus with a vital 2-0 win to ensure they have a fantastic chance of making the next round.
FC Minsk [H] – Tuesday 22nd October [kick-off: 7pm]
Middlesbrough [H] – Saturday 26th October [kick-off: 12:30pm]
Wolverhampton Wanderers [H] – Saturday 9th November [kick-off: 11am]
Aston Villa [A] – Saturday 23rd November [kick-off: 11am]
Manchester City [A] – Saturday 30th November [kick-off: 12pm]
Words by Ed Mackey