Despite exiting the Premier League Cup at the group phase at the weekend, Derby County’s Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Adam Robinson was pleased with his side’s resolve in their thrilling 3-3 draw with Chelsea.
Malcolm Ebiowei’s hat-trick saw the Rams’ Under-18s pick up their second draw from three matches in the Group phase, but it wasn’t enough to see them progress to the next round of the competition.
Robinson was pleased with the fight shown by his team to stay in touching distance throughout the contest, which was played in unfavourable conditions against the group leaders.
The Under-18s Head Coach said: “I was pleased with the resilience the lads showed to come back after going behind on a couple of occasions.
“We didn’t adapt to the conditions as quickly as I would’ve liked playing against the wind, and we struggled to get out a bit.
“We grew into the game, though, and in the second half when we had the wind in our favour, we dominated for large periods.”
Ebiowei produced in an impressive display, scoring all three of Derby’s goals against the Blues.
His first goal came from the penalty spot, as well as a header and a long-range strike to complete his treble, showing off his full repertoire as a clinical finisher.
Robinson believes Ebiowei’s performance is a testament to the hard work the whole team have put in recently to better themselves and adapt to a new system, where different requirements are asked of them as individual players.
“I thought he [Ebiowei] was superb today,” explained Robinson. “He has been working hard on his out-of-possession play as we know what he can do on the ball, and I am pleased he got his three goals.
“We are a little bit harder to beat; even though we conceded three goals, we look more secure in the middle of the park, which is pleasing.
“Then we have got the threat in the final third to score plenty of goals.
“The lads have worked hard in training and taken in a lot of new information recently, but ultimately there are some players who are performing well at the moment.
“Our job is just to help them progress into the Under-23s and then into the first-team setup, but everyone is working hard to achieve that.”
There were a few fresh faces in the Derby team for the game, which Robinson also highlighted, including 16-year-old Omari Kellyman, who featured on the bench for the senior team in their win over AFC Bournemouth last weekend.
“We are adapting all the time,” continued Robinson. “We have new players coming in from the Under-16s all the time, so it was great to see them slot in as well as they did.
“Omari [Kellyman] was away with the Northern Ireland international group, and then he came back, had a couple of good games for the Under-16s and then had a training block with the first team.
“He has done well to get to that stage, and it was important that he got some minutes in to continue his development, and I thought he grew into the game well as it went on.”
Words: Sam Allen (University of Derby Football Journalism Student)