Derby County’s U23s extended their unbeaten run to three matches with a 1-1 draw against Manchester United in Premier League 2 – Division 1 on Friday night.
Derby went into the match after back-to-back victories, 6-0 against Blackburn Rovers in the league before the international break and 2-1 in the Premier League Cup at home against Reading earlier this week, and they had full value for their points against the Red Devils .
After a goalless first half at Loughborough University Stadium, Derby took the lead five minutes into the second half as striker Bartosz Cybulksi found the net from close range to round off a clever attacking move.
United, however, struck back to equalize through Charlie McNeil with 70 minutes played to serve the visitors as part of the prey as the Rams’ U-23s noted the season’s first draw in the league.
Derby’s starting XI included experienced first-team goalkeeper David Marshall, while midfielder Louie Sibley was also named in the side to get match minutes under his belt after a period on the bench for Wayne Rooney’s side in recent weeks.
Louie Watson, Dylan Williams, Isaac Hutchinson and Osazee Aghatise, who have all played for the Rams’ first team this season, were also mentioned in the starting line-up by U23 boss Pat Lyons.
United’s team included former Rams loaner Teden Mengi, who played nine appearances for Rooney’s team in a loan spell in the second half of last season.
The match started at a steady pace and United had the first attempt on goal with 13 minutes on the clock. Charlie Wellens unleashed a swerving effort from the right that the visitors’ keeper did well to tip wide.
Derby were close to even opening the scoring just two minutes later through Sibley. The lively attacking midfielder found a place on the edge of the box and put a low effort into goal with his left foot, which Dermot Mee in the United goal did well in getting a hand to at the expense of a corner kick.
It was the best chance for what turned out to be an equal opening 45 minutes with clear opportunities few and far between. Although both sides had ball possession, which saw them work their way into good areas of attack, the last ball and leading edge were missing when needed.
Lyons made a change at the break when U18 midfielder Darren Robinson, still 16 and in his first year as a scholar after signing from Northern Ireland striker Dungannon Swifts, replaced Aghatise.
Derby came out of the traps strong at the start of the second half and they took the lead five minutes into the half after a clever pass pull down the right side.
Hutchinson and Sibley teamed up well to pick out Max Bardell’s run in space as the Rams made inroads into the attacking third. The right-back drove into the United area before crossing low for Cybulski to guide the ball into the net for his second goal of the campaign.
The goal was a reward for Cybulski’s tireless work that led the series throughout the campaign and his first in the league at U23 level, having previously scored 11 times for U18 in 26 appearances in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons. .
United pressed for an equalizer immediately with Alejandro Garnacho putting an effort past and Bjorn Hardley shooting directly at Marshall in the Derby goal, while Sibley at the other end forced Mee to a stop after scoring from inside the right of to get a shot. gone.
The visitors equalized with 20 minutes left when a through ball sent McNeil ready on goal and the former English U-16 international kept cool to place the ball under Marshall.
Another Sibley effort forced Mee to a save with ten minutes left, the third time the United goalkeeper had thwarted the Derby Academy candidate as his first effort from the edge of the box was pushed back to the corner kick.
The United goalkeeper denied Sibley once again before the night was over, this time by pushing his dripping effort from distance over the crossbar while the clock ticked down.
Despite both sides pushing forward to a winner late, they had to settle for one point each.
The result means that while Derby remain at the foot of Premier League 2 – Division 1, they are now just four points away from safety with still over half of the season left.
The U-23s return to battle in a week’s time when they travel south to face Arsenal on Friday 26 November (19.00 kick-off), while their next home game is in fourteen days when they face Chelsea on Loughborough University Stadium on Friday 3 December (kick-off 19.00).
Derby County U23: Marshall, Bardell, Grewal-Pollard, Cashin (C), Williams, Watson, Aghatise (Robinson 46), I Hutchinson, Sibley, Cybulksi, Plange.
Replacements not used: Foulkes (GK), R Hutchinson, Clarke, Matthews.
Manchester United U23: Mee, Jurado (Mather 71), Fernandez, Mengi (C), Hardley, Svidersky, Wellens, Hansen (Mainoo 78), McNeil, Hannibal (Savage 71), Garnacho.
Replacements not used: Vitek (GK), Bennett.