Danny Maye praised his side’s winning mentality as Derby County’s Under-18s extended their unbeaten run to three games following a 3-1 victory against Stoke City in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday.

First half goals from Justin Oguntolu, Johnson Osong and a fine second half strike from Wales youth-international Cruz Allen secured a deserved victory at Moor Farm Training Ground.

Despite feeling there were some areas of his side’s performance that could have been better, Maye was pleased with how they found a way to win.

He said: “I thought the non-negotiables we speak about; the intensity to press, dualling, being aggressive and recovering quickly were strangely missing, which I haven’t seen for a long time.

“I thought in the first half we were fortunate; we had some really good moments of individual brilliance and some good moments of building where we played through them well and they struggled pressing us.

“In the second half, it was pleasing to see a reaction. We just did the basics a lot better, which allowed us to gain more control and create a lot more chances.”

The victory secured back-to-back wins for the Rams after their 2-1 win at Newcastle United last weekend, something Maye finds great satisfaction in.

He said: “Winning is a habit, even sometimes when you’re not at your best, and it’s a skill the lads will need going into the first team should they make that step.

“We found a way to win today, and that’s off the back of a number of good performances since Christmas, so it’s pleasing – credit to the lads as they improved in the second half and, in the end, it could have been a lot more comfortable.”

Tempers began to flair in the Stoke camp after Derby’s third goal, but Maye was impressed with his players’ discipline.

He said: “When it’s emotional and things start kicking off, it’s important to stay calm. We had a feisty game with them last time; they’re a good team that will always battle but you’ve got to keep calm in those situations, and we didn’t get caught up in it which is pleasing.”

The win over the Potters means Derby are now level on points with Liverpool in third place, something Maye says his players should take great pride in:

He concluded: “As much as it’s about development and getting players into the first team, the lads learning how to win is very important.

“To see us playing with a young team, winning games and being level with third, they should be proud of that. It’s all their hard work, but there’s always that bigger picture about the next step – to give lads the opportunity to play in a very good first team.”

Words: Will Stanier