Mason Bennett bags a brace as U21s stay in touch with the leaders
MASON Bennett scored twice in Derby County Under-21s' 3-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Moor Farm yesterday afternoon.
Bennett gave the Rams a half-time lead and Nathan Tyson doubled their advantage early in the second half before Bennett completed the scoring in the final minute.
The win kept Derby in second place behind leaders Leicester City in Division Two North of the Professional Development League.
Goalkeeper Frank Fielding and midfielder Ben Davies started for Derby, while Wednesday's line up included Nicky Weaver, Nejc Pecnik and Reda Johnson, who scored a late equaliser against Derby in the opening Championship clash of the season at Pride Park.
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Wednesday started the under-21 clash in a positive manner. Harry Grant pulled a shot narrowly wide of the far post and Caolan Lavery blasted over as Derby's young back line found its feet.
The four defenders – Keiron Freeman, Josh Lelan, Jamie Hanson and Michael Hoganson – are all 20 or under. The centre-back pairing of Lelan and Hanson impressed and both were assisted by the encouragement and talking of Fielding behind them.
Derby went ahead after 22 minutes. Tyson drilled in a low centre from the left and Bennett, having moved to the near post, turned the ball low past Weaver.
Wednesday continued to look a threat and Fielding did well to collect a couple of crosses under pressure.
When a back pass from Ben Davies went straight to Pecnik, Fielding reacted sharply to block the shot.
Derby were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Bennett should have scored minutes before Tyson made it 2-0.
Bennett made the chance for himself when his determination and strength took him through two or three challenges but he lifted the ball over when he looked certain to find the net.
The 16-year-old was involved in Tyson's goal after 49 minutes.
His first-time effort from Conor Doyle's low centre thudded against a post and as Wednesday struggled to clear, Tyson pounced to find the corner of the net.
Wednesday kept plugging away and Fielding held at drive from Bastien Hery and then watched as Grant slid in to reach a cross and put the ball just wide.
Lavery saw his header from Grant's free kick rebound off the bar but Derby continued to create chances of their own.
Bennett, Tyson and Davies all fired wide before Bennett grabbed the Rams' third goal in the 90th minute when he sent a left-foot shot low and wide of Weaver.
Derby have won eight and drawn two of their 12 fixtures at under-21 level going into the Christmas break.
DERBY COUNTY U21s: Fielding; Freeman, Lelan, Hanson, Hoganson; Bennett, Dawkins (Richards, 75), Dales (Wixted, 64), Davies; Tyson (Thomas, 87), Doyle. Other sub: Morch.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY U21s: Weaver; White, Smith, Grant, Johnson (Peacock, 64), McKenzie, Pecnik (Hinchcliffe, 61), Corry, Lavery, Fletcher, Hery. Other subs: Kyle, Dawson, Nyoni.
REFEREE: D Bourne (Notts).