Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Adam Robinson expressed his delight with his side’s performance as Derby County Under-18s's secured their first home win of the season on Saturday.

Malcolm Ebiowei’s stunning free-kick and Sam Sebagabo’s brilliant individual goal were enough for the young Rams as they held off a late fightback from Stoke City to win 2-1 at Moor Farm Training Ground.

Despite the positive result, Robinson was still quick to point out his concerns regarding the nervy ending to the game in which his side almost gave up their deserved lead late on.

The Under-18s Head Coach said: “I’m delighted for the lads to get the victory as I think we made hard work of it in the end and could have been a few more goals up, especially early on when we were dominating the game.

“It was disappointing to let them back into the game in the end, but overall, I am pleased with the three points.”

Derby were direct and purposeful when on the ball, with all the midfield players in the 3-5-2 set-up happy to get on the ball and drive to create openings or invite fouls from the opposition.

That is precisely what Ebiowei did for his goal, and Robinson was pleased with the confidence shown from his attacking players when in possession.

Robinson continued: “I thought in the first half especially we moved the ball well and some of the individual performances with players beating their markers in one-against-one situations which were all great.

“We managed to get several crosses into the box, but I think we needed more bodies in there to convert them into goals.

“We know that Malcolm Ebiowei is good at running with the ball as he showed today, as well as Reece Nicholas-Davies and Ola Ibrahim, who were all very good when running with the ball, and they are such a threat.

“It’s just about making the right decisions and producing the end product – I think Malcolm could’ve got a couple more goals today.”

Alongside Ibrahim, Bayo Fapetu and Sebagabo, who scored what turned out to be the winning goal with great composure in the second half, also starred for the Under-18s with a professional performance as a midfield unit to stop attacks and progress the ball.

Robinson was full of praise for the pair and their progress in a short space of time as new introductions to the Under-18s set-up this season.

Robinson exclaimed: “They’re [Fapetu and Sebagabo] getting better with each game and have both benefitted greatly from playing lots of Under 18s football as first years.

“They are benefitting the team as well with their improved performances, as it gives us that solidity and energy in midfield which we need with the system we are playing.

“We constantly talk to them about switching play when in possession, and I think they are getting better at that, but also organisationally, they have improved in preventing the counterattack.

“Sam [Sebagabo] and Bayo [Fapetu] have always been very good with transitional play, so it is all positive.”

The change of shape to a back three formation has improved Derby’s performances as of late, and Robinson is happy to see that the players have quickly taken to their new roles.

“We’re unbeaten in four now,” explained Robinson. “Drawing three and winning today using this shape which suggests that it has been a positive change which the lads are embracing.

“They’re all getting better in terms of their understanding the individual roles and responsibilities in and out of possession which came to fruition in this game.”

Words: Sam Allen