Derby County Under-18s go five without a win in the Under-18s Premier League North after drawing 1-1 with Sunderland. A late strike by Tom Watson cancelled out Charlie Rutt’s opener and denied the Rams their first win since February.

Derby started the game on top, controlling possession and it didn’t take long for them to open the scoring.

Eight minutes in Marko Borkovic’s dangerous free-kick was put away well by defender Charlie Rutt from six yards out to give the Rams an early lead.

Sunderland responded well to falling behind early on and were on top for most of the first half, having some good chances in the first 20 to pull themselves back into the game.

There was a shout for a penalty from the visitors 15 minutes in when Eli Christie brought down Ben Middlemas, but the referee saw nothing of it.

Will Dowling and Tom Watson both tested Alfie Roberts in the Rams net, but the ‘keeper stood strong in the first 45, producing a commanding display.

The young Rams defended fantastically in the first half and likewise pressing and transitioning forward well after taking the early lead, which frustrated the visitors.

With an early strike and many chances, the first half should have produced more goals. Both sides had chances to increase the score further, but it stayed 1-0 to Derby at the break.

The second half started how the first ended, Derby on the back foot defending well with Sunderland creating the majority of the chances.

Most of the second half consisted of half chances from the visitors, Derby’s compact defensive shape frustrated Sunderland.

The young Rams won their battles in crucial areas combined with some fine stops by Roberts, which kept the away side at bay for most of the second half.

With ten minutes to play, Tom Watson’s right-footed strike from the edge of the box found the bottom-left corner and levelled the scores.

Playing in tough conditions late on, The young Rams fought hard to take back the lead. They stayed on top for the rest of the game and worked with utter resilience to bounce back from the late set-back.

Derby had a couple of golden chances to take the lead at the death. Substitute Callum Moore’s headed effort was saved well by Harrison Bond. Borkovic did brilliantly once again down the left side and delivered his cross to a stretching Moore again who could not convert from close range.

Derby drop to 7th in the table and travel to face the league leaders Manchester City next as The young Rams will look to end their winless run.

Words: Peter Mahoney