Wassall, Hoganson on target as U21s close gap on Leicester at the summit
DERBY County have closed the gap on leaders Leicester City to three points in Division Two North of the Under-21 Professional Development League.
Two cracking strikes from Ayrton Wassall and Michael Hoganson gave the Rams a 2-0 victory over Sheffield United at Moor Farm yesterday afternoon.
The Derby team was dictated by injuries to members of the first-team squad and the fact the club has an FA Youth Cup quarter-final tie against Chelsea at Pride Park on Friday night.
None of the 11 likely to start against Chelsea featured against Sheffield United and there was an unusual look to the bench with coach Andy Garner, fitness coach Steve Haines and head of analysis Paul Winstanley among the substitutes – all unused.
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Kurtis Revan sent a shot narrowly wide for Derby early on before Wassall put them ahead after 21 minutes with an excellent volley from 30 yards.
Jordan Chapell's shot was deflected wide as United tried to respond and when Saul Deeney made a brilliant one-handed save low down to his right to keep out a free kick from Erik Tonne, Joe Ironside lifted the loose ball high over an unguarded net.
The miss proved costly for United because Hoganson put the Rams two up nine minutes after the break.
Revan was brought down 25 yards-plus from goal and Hoganson, who recently made three starts for the first team, smashed his free kick into the top corner, a wonderful strike.
Deeney needed to make two saves from Tonne but Derby deserved their victory.
Conor Doyle imposed himself in central midfield and left-back Hoganson continues to develop and impress. The Rams included schoolboy Guy Clennett on the right side of midfield. He plays for the under-16s.
This was another tremendous effort given the team Derby were able to field and further highlights the spirit and determination and willingness to work hard that is running through the players at all levels within the club.
DERBY COUNTY U21s: Deeney; Nash, Rawson, Adams, Hoganson; Clennett (Tuite, 75), Wassall, Doyle, Revan; Carrigy, Johnson. Other subs: Morch (gk), Garner, Winstanley, Haines.
SHEFFIELD UNITED U21s: Willis; Hodder (Scarisbrick, 79), Willaims, Harriott, Kennedy, Barry (Pemberton, 63), Chapell, Whitehouse, Ironside, Smith, Tonne (McDonagh, 75). Other subs: Khan, Owen.
REFEREE: B Cooke (Atherstone).