Justin Walker was impressed with the performance of his Derby County Under-18s side as they cruised past Sunderland Under-18s with a 3-0 win away from home.
It was goals from Jack Stretton (2) and Archie Brown that helped the young Rams to the comfortable victory and their manager was quick to praise the patience of his players as they worked hard to break down their opponents.
“We did what we needed to do,” Walker claimed. “It was a difficult game for the lads, it’s not easy when there’s 11 men behind the ball.
“They had numbers behind the ball from the first minute and we had to show a lot of patience in difficult conditions so I’m really pleased in the end.”
The Under-18s boss did criticise some aspects of the performance but identified that any first-half issues were ironed out in the second period.
He said: “We were probably a little bit too slow with our possession first half and didn’t move the ball well enough. The conditions helped with that with more ball speed and it helped us get the goals we needed.
[In the second half] we needed to tidy up technically and be more efficient with the ball, the onus was on us to break them down and obviously the first goal was crucial for us and we went on to score two more goals which was important.”
Both Festy Ebosele and Brown were in the squad for the Under-23s in their 4-1 victory over Everton Under-23s on Friday night. The latter even came off the bench for half an hour at Pride Park and earned a penalty, something that was particularly satisfying for Walker.
“Festy [Ebosele] and Archie [Brown] both went last night and made an impact for the U23s and we were happy with their efforts last night,” he explained.
“For them to come and make a long journey to Sunderland and have the correct mentality, with a big week ahead of us, is pleasing. They are consistently showing the right attributes.”
With a potentially historic evening in store for Walker and his players on Tuesday night, the manager maintained that as a collective they must be on top of their game.
He said: “We’ve got to pride ourselves on the standard we set every game. It’s a three-game week again and we’ll be refocussing from today and putting all our efforts into preparing for Tuesday’s game.”
Words by Ed Mackey