Louie Sibley couldn’t hide his delight as he netted his first goal of the season to rescue Derby County a point in their thrilling 2-2 draw against high-flying Brentford at Pride Park Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Rams fell two goals behind in the first half following an early penalty from Ivan Toney and a low Sergi Canos’ strike midway through the half.
Derby needed a response and manager Wayne Rooney made a triple substitute at half time which saw the Rams change their shape.
One of those substitutes, Lee Gregory, made an immediate impact by scoring from close range following Nathan Byrne’s low ball into the box.
The Rams continued to push forward in a bid to find an equaliser and that finally came in the 86th minute of the game through another half-time substitute in Sibley.
Substitute Patrick Roberts found the 19-year-old with a smart pass and he curled home from the edge of the area to score his first of the campaign and earn Derby a point.
“I came on at half time and I just wanted to make an impact,” Sibley told RamsTV.
“Recently I’ve not been playing and it’s been frustrating. I’m a young lad learning every day and like every other player I want to play football, so that goal meant a lot to me.
“It was great work from Patrick Roberts and as soon as it went in, it literally meant so much because I know I need to do better. I’ve taken that on board and hopefully today I’ve proved what I can do."
Rooney has in recent weeks spoken about the need for Sibley to make an impact from the substitute’s bench when he comes on in games.
It’s something the pair have spoken about privately and Sibley was pleased to repay the manager’s faith..
“He wants the best out of me,” Sibley admitted. “All of the coaches want the best out of me and I think that’s all it is.
“Every day I’m training hard and recently I’ve not been playing, but I’ve hopefully proven what I can do.
“In the last couple of games I’ve been coming on for a little bit, but tonight I got more minutes and hopefully I showed that I can be confident on the ball and take risks.
“I’m not going to get carried away. It was nice to get the goal and the lads did well in the second half, but now I just want to keep playing football and keep smiling every day.
“I was speaking before the game and I think because it means so much to me when I come on, sometimes I used to give silly fouls away. I’ve learned now and I think I was just too eager to come on and impress.
“I’ve not been starting recently so when I come on, I am always trying to make an impact and sometimes I’ve got carried away and done silly things - so it’s just about learning. I’m still young, I’m eager and I’m hungry to play. That’s the main outcome for me.”
The attacking midfielder felt Derby were good value for the point against the automatic promotion hopefuls, especially on the second half showing.
“We changed the formation and some players and that made a big impact,” he said. “We were more intense when we pressed. We pushed high up the pitch and it showed.
“It’s a massive point and hopefully we can build on it. It was a really good team performance in the end but the lads are still frustrated because if we had started like that then we could have won the game. For us, we take the positives but we can look at what we can learn as well.
“We have a good squad and when we do play the top teams it shouldn’t be any different. We know what we can do and we need to keep going now. We need to build on this.
“We will look back at it over the next couple of days, take the positives and negatives and keep going.”