Derby County’s Under-23s were beaten on the road at West Ham United in their penultimate Premier League 2 - Division 1 fixture of the 2021/22 season on Bank Holiday Monday.
The hosts ran out 5-0 winners at their main London Stadium home on a difficult evening for the Rams’ youngsters in the capital.
Sonny Perkins’ early penalty had Derby on the back foot inside the first three minutes and further strikes from Thierry Nevers and Andriy Yarmolenko left them three goals behind at the break.
Perkins added another for the hosts on the hour mark before Divin Mubama rounded off the scoring in added time.
Derby’s Under-23s had their relegation to Premier League 2 - Division 2 confirmed last month, with the club’s much-publicised off-field issues this season having a knock-on effect for Pat Lyons’ side throughout the season.
Despite having a threadbare and youthful squad throughout the season, Lyons’ side have battled valiantly and although they were unable to avoid the drop the experiences will no doubt stand the Rams’ youngsters in good stead for the future.
West Ham, second in the league, included Ukrainian international forward Yarmolenko, with over 100 caps for his country at the age of 32, in their starting line-up while Derby’s youthful side included Carlos Richards, Darren Robinson and Osazee Aghatise who have all made their senior debuts off the bench for the first-team this season.
Derby were behind inside three minutes as Perkins netted from the penalty spot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Harry Evans, who went the right way but was unable to deny the Hammers’ frontman.
Stretton went close to an equaliser after the Rams weathered a spell of pressure, but Nevers added a second following a corner after 22 minutes and Yarmolenko went on to add a third with a composed finish before the half hour mark after being sent clear on goal.
Yarmolenko went on to set up the home side’s fourth on the hour mark with a controlled through-ball in behind the Derby backline to Perkins, who beat Evans and net his second goal of the game.
Lyons’s side hung in there and continued to battle away for the final half hour to keep the scoreline down and went close to pulling a goal back from distance through Stretton’s long-range effort, while Nevers and Manny Longelo hit the woodwork for the Hammers.
West Ham added a fifth in injury time through substitute Mubama at the far post to add further gloss to the scoreline.
Derby’s Under-23s will conclude their 2021/22 season with a trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Monday 9th May (7pm kick-off).
West Ham United Under-23s: Hegyi (GK), Ashby, Longelo, Ekwah, Greenidge, Alese (C), Yarmolenko (Mubama 69), Forson (Potts 61), Perkins, Nevers, Chesters (Swyer, 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Kinnear (GK), Laing.
Derby County Under-23s: Evans (GK), Bates (Sebagabo 82), Grewal-Pollard, Matthews, Solomon, Clarke, Richards, Robinson, Stretton (C), Aghatise, Shonibare (Brailsford 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Foulkes (GK).