Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Adam Robinson highlighted a catalogue of exemplary individual performances as the key to success as Derby County Under-18s thrashed Leeds United 5-1 at Moor Farm Training Ground on Saturday.
Despite the eventual scoreline, the young Rams did not start the game well, conceding several chances to the opposition, who forced a handful of saves off Harry Evans.
Robinson expressed his delight with the performance while highlighting the slow start Derby made, suggesting that his side took a while to adapt to the visitor’s style of play.
“We didn’t start well,” Robinson stated. “I thought in the first 15 minutes we didn’t get going, but we grew into the game as it went on.
“In the second half, we dominated possession of the ball and scored some brilliant goals along the way, so I’m happy with the overall performance.
“I think the way they play is very similar to how the first team do, in a man-to-man system, and we weren’t dealing with that very well.
“We were too open, but once we got to grips with it and looked after the ball more, we were comfortable.
“I think in the final third, we were always a threat, but at the start of the game, we were too open defensively.”
Malcolm Ebiowei scored a brilliant hat-trick in the game, in another excellent performance for the right-winger, who has now scored seven goals in as many appearances for Derby.
His performance was backed up on the other side of the pitch by Ola Ibrahim, whom himself netted a brilliant goal in the first half.
While outlining the evident qualities and showering praise upon the performances of his wide players, Robinson was also keen to point out the role that the two central midfielders played in supporting them.
Robinson continued: “They [Ebiowei and Ibrahim] both travel with the ball immensely well, and today, the end product was there as well, which was vital for us today.
“Ola scored an outstanding goal, and all three of Malcolm’s goals were exceptional. They are very hard to play against as a duo, and today they were very effective going forward.
“You also have to have the players around them to supplement, for example, Bayo Fapetu and Sam Sebagabo were superb today in the middle of the park, and they both covered a lot of grass.
“That then allows the attacking players to play with more freedom and no fear, knowing they have the protection behind covering the space behind.”
Derby have now won three home league games in a row but are still plagued with inconsistencies in their performances which their head coach is keen to iron out over the next couple of games.
“In the second half, we controlled the ball a lot better and played our own game,” explained Robinson. “I don’t think they could deal with us in the final third.
“We were also a lot more compact out of possession and in defence, but we are still searching for the consistency in our performances.
“I also want us to keep more clean sheets, which with a more consistent, unchanging group of players in the next few games, hopefully, we can do that.”
The Under-18s shot up to sixth in the table with the win and will look to continue their strong home form next week with another fixture at Moor Farm, this time against Everton on Saturday 29th January.
Words: Sam Allen