Derby County Under-21s were beaten 3-1 by Blackburn Rovers Under-21s at the Loughborough University Stadium on Monday night.

Joe Ward opened the scoring on 36 minutes but the Rams would go into the break behind after a quickfire double from Dominik Biniek and Zak Gilsenan.

The latter added his second of the night on 76 minutes, handing Jake Buxton's side a Premier League 2 defeat.

The young Rams settled into the game well and Lennon Wheeldon forced visiting goalkeeper Nicholas Michalski into a strong stop at his near post after striking from the edge of the box on eight minutes.

The visitors began to show their threat, though, and Gilsenan would be left disappointed he hadn't tested Jack Thompson after getting in behind with 20 played. The Blackburn forward was only able to drag his effort wide of the far post.

On the half-hour he got in behind again but, with Ryan Bartley recovering to put him under pressure, he could only fire a feeble effort at Thompson in the Derby goal.

Keilen Robinson met a deep Ward corner on the volley but couldn't generate the power to trouble Michalski shortly afterwards, with the sides trading chances in an entertaining contest.

And the breakthrough came on 36 minutes when Ward went for goal himself from the corner of the box. Michalski couldn't get enough behind his low shot to the near post and was left picking the ball out of his net.

It could have been two just moments later when Liam Thompson latched onto a long ball in behind the Blackburn defence. He twisted and turned to work a yard for a shot from inside the box, but could only fire over the crossbar from a good position.

Derby could have been made to pay on 42 minutes, when Leo Duru burst down the right wing before cutting back for Harley O'Grady-Macken, who was well positioned inside the box. His shot sailed over the bar and the young Rams breathed a sigh of relief.

They did not heed the warning, however. Duru got away again just two minutes later and again cut back for O'Grady-Macken, who this time laid off for Biniek. He would make no mistake from just inside the box, arrowing an effort through bodies into the bottom corner.

It went from bad to worse for Derby when, inside three additional first-half minutes, Gilsenan sent a lovely free-kick over the wall from 20 yards out, leaving Thompson helpless and sending Blackburn into the break with the lead.

The second period was slow to get going, with the first real chance of note not coming until the 62nd minute.

Tony Weston fashioned the opening for himself by winning the ball back just inside the Blackburn half, before driving forward into the area. He went for goal with a low, left-footed shot, which Michalski turned over the crossbar with an outstretched foot.

But it was the visitors who would find the next goal. It came just inside the final quarter-hour when goalscorers Biniek and Gilsenan combined brilliantly to get the former in one-on-one with Thompson. The young keeper did brilliantly to keep him out but possession broke for Gilsenan, who picked the gap between recovering defenders to find the back of the net for the second time.

Weston, substitute Johnson Osong and Max Bardell all sent shots off target as the young Rams looked for a swift response.

With two minutes remaining, Tyrese Fornah struck well after a Ward cross broke for him on the edge of the box, but Michalski was equal to his effort.

That was the final opportunity the young Rams were able to fashion, meaning they were unable to back up their 1-0 win at West Brom seven days earlier.

Derby County Under-21s return to action a week on Friday (1st March) when they travel to Leigh Sports Village to face Manchester United in Premier League 2 (kick-off 7pm).

Derby County Under-21s: J Thompson, Bardell (Oduroh 85'), Bartley, K Robinson, Gill (Moloney 85'), D Robinson (C), Fornah, Ward, L Thompson (Fapetu 85'), Weston, Wheeldon (Osong 64').

Subs not used: Shattell (GK).

Blackburn Rovers Under-21s: Michalski, Batty (Stritch 60'), Doherty, Olson (Caddick 75'), Haddow, Duru, Weston, Biniek, O'Grady-Macken (Nsangou 46'), Gilsenan (Powell 90'), Atcheson.

Subs not used: Honor (GK).