Derby County Under-18s Head Coach Adam Robinson was pleased with his side’s reaction to back-to-back defeats at home after battling to a draw with Reading in their Premier League Cup opener.
Reading took the lead in the cup tie halfway through the first half before Carlos Richards scored a superb equaliser to rescue a point for his side in an end-to-end battle at Moor Farm.
Despite going down to ten men with as many minutes to go, Robinson still had a level of discouragement that his side could not take all three points because of his side’s much-improved display.
“It’s disappointing not to get the victory,” Robinson exclaimed. “After the last couple of performances and results we’ve had, I thought the reaction was good from the lads, especially when we went down to ten men [in the game].
“The team unity, desire and physicality that we showed was really positive.”
The young Rams did go in at half-time down a goal, and it looked as though the result could be of the same ilk as the games against Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. Their manager spoke about what needed to change to get them back into the game.
Robinson said: “I think our game management wasn’t necessarily excellent, we talked to them at half-time about what we needed to do better in the final third to hurt them more.
“I think we needed to continue physically dominating the opposition, which is what we did and then take the opportunities when they came.”
A handful of individual performances pulled the team back into the game, including the likes of the goalkeeper, Harvey Randle and the goalscorer Carlos Richards, which Robinson was quick to highlight.
The U18s Head Coach declared: “[Randle] did really well, Harvey’s shot-stopping is a significant strength of his game, and he showed that today!
“As for Carlos, we know he can do that as we see him do that every week in training, so it was great for him to transfer it into the game.
“That little bit of magic can change the course of the game in tight battles like we had today.”
The referee's decision to send off Rhys Brailsford was a significant moment in the game psychologically for the home side, and Robinson did not wholly agree with it. Nonetheless, he connoted his happiness at how his side reacted.
Robinson said: “I disagree with the second booking, having watched it back. The referee said there was an elbow involved, but that’s not how I saw it.
“You can’t do anything about or plan for in any way the decision making of the officials; it’s something that these players will have to deal with a lot more throughout their careers.
“With that in mind, I thought the reaction was superb; all the lads stuck together and thought right to the end.”
Derby needed to get something out of the game with Reading with tough tests against Blackburn and Chelsea to come, with the former defeating the young Rams 6-1 in their last meeting.
“It was crucial,” explained Robinson about the result. “We know what Chelsea will be about, and we have come up against Blackburn already this season, so we know they’re a strong group.
“Getting a point keeps us in the competition and allows us to look forward to the other two games and play with a purpose because when you go out early, it’s sometimes difficult to find the motivation.”
Looking ahead, the U18s Head Coach knows there are still areas that his side can improve on to turn draws into wins, but was relieved to see a noticeable improvement in his side’s defensive solidity in the game.
Robinson finished with: “We were focusing more on just competing as we have conceded many goals in the last two games, so our main priority was not to concede silly goals, so we were pleased with that side of the game.
“Of course, we have to create more opportunities in the future, which is something we will continue to work on with the group.”
Words: Sam Allen