HOW IT HAPPENED
Our under-23s secured a dramatic draw against Derby County on Friday, thanks to late strikes from Jordi Osei-Tutu and Julio Pleguezuelo, with the latter scoring deep into injury time at Meadow Park.
We began the game with fervour and very nearly took an early lead five minutes in, when Derby’s Jason Shackell almost turned the ball into his own net after blocking Yassin Fortune’s low delivery.
A few minutes later, the visitors called Matt Macey into action, forcing the goalkeeper into making a low save from Mason Bennett. Despite this, Charles Vernam fired the ball home from the edge of the penalty area following the resulting corner to put the visitors ahead.
Keen to get back into the game, we found an equaliser 10 minutes later when Akpom followed up Ben Sheaf’s effort to poke the ball past Josh Barnes from close range.
With the interval nearing, we were dominating possession, but failing to make our chances count. It was the Rams who took the lead once more, this time through Bennett, who coolly buried the ball after having raced in behind our back line.
Following the break, Bennett looked to double up and stretch Derby’s lead, but saw his powerful effort from outside the box blocked.
On the hour mark, the Rams did add a third, when Alex Babos blasted the ball in on the rebound after Offrande Zanzala had cannoned a shot off the woodwork following a misplaced pass from Macey.
In search of a way back into the game, Marcus McGuane looked to reduce the deficit, linking up well as he burst into the penalty area, but saw his low shot scooped up by Barnes.
With just 12 minutes left on the clock, we were handed a lifeline with a driven strike into the far corner by Osei-Tutu.
Knowing a point was within touching distance, we pushed to equalise and very nearly did so through Krystian Bielik, whose effort was blocked after a goal-line scramble.
But then deep into injury time, we eventually found the goal we were searching for through an unlikely source in Julio Pleguezuelo, who fired home to bring us level.
WHAT IT MEANS
A draw sees us remain in third place, while fourth-placed Everton sit just three points behind us with a game in hand.
Our under-23s travel to Liverpool in their next fixture as they take on the league leaders at Prenton Park in the New Year.
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