Danny Maye commended his Derby County Under-18s side in a ‘scrappy’ 1-1 draw with East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest in the Under-18 Premier League – North.

The Rams took the lead early on through Niall McAndrew, but the visitors equalised from the penalty spot just before the half-time break.

In a physical game that saw eleven yellow cards issued, Maye was pleased with the fact that his side remained resilient to play within their identity.

“It was a scrappy game, but I said to the players at the end they could be proud of their performance as it was a hard-earned point,” said the Under-18 Lead Coach.

“They played with nine second year scholars, and we are quite a young side, so it was always going to be quite a challenge both athletically and physically.

“But they dug in, pressed really well and created good chances and really fought hard. We were much better in their duelling and competing compared to the Blackburn Rovers game last week, which we lost.”

Derby were prolific in a 6-0 win last time out against their local rivals before Christmas, but Maye stood firm that he is not one to deviate away from their usual preparation no matter the fixture.

“All the processes are the same,” he said. “It is the same for the FA Youth Cup and for everything.

“You can’t help the fact that the lads are going to feel different before these types of games, it’s down to them to recognise and accept it’s like any other game and manage themselves through it.”

Tempers flared in the first half following a foul on defender Billy Gough that resulted in cautions for multiple players, but Maye felt it was important for players to learn how to deal with these situations.

He said: “You have to recognise there is a game to be played. You’re letting people down if you get sent off unnecessarily, and that becomes even more serious when you get to first-team level.

“So, it’s just a good lesson in that moment, and of course they’re going to want to defend each other. But you must be able to step back and focus on the game instead of getting caught up in the emotion.”

A draw sees Derby level on points with Liverpool in third spot in the Under-18 Premier League - North table, following their defeat to Leeds United.

Maye concluded: “We have our identity. We want to press and win the ball high up the pitch and be aggressive whilst dominating the possession.

“But the most important thing is that we have to learn how to win games. As players get to the first team, that is all about three points.”

Words: Joe Bird