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Rams U21's Knocked Out Of Premier League Cup - Derby 1 v 2 Hull
Thursday, 24th Oct 2013 01:36 by Stuart Hughes

I'd been in Swindon Monday, Tuesday and today with work and was disappointed to miss the U21 game at Belper on Monday. After last season's highlights against Manchester City and Chelsea I quite enjoy the youth games.

So when my 3.30 pm project meeting got cancelled with less than 45 minutes notice, I quickly checked Derby County News Now and was pleasantly surprised to see the game had been rearranged for tonight. At 3.05 pm I was in Swindon and by 6.50 pm I was at Christchurch Meadow, Belper.

Derby lined up 4-3-3 as follows (right to left): Mats Morch - Kieron Freeman, Ferrand Rawson, Josh Lelan, Mike Hoganson - Andy Dales, Kalifa Cisse, Niall Dawkins - Callum Ball, Kwame Thomas, Michael Jacobs. Subs: Jakub Spiriak (gk), Luke Hendrie, Kurt Revan, Adam Wixted, Offrande Zanzala.

I was surprised there was no Jamie Hanson who, alongside Lelan, was outstanding in central defence in the aforementioned games against Man City and Chelsea last season. No Valentin Gjokaj or Max Lowe either and I was also surprised that there were no defenders on the bench.

The game itself though was an anti-climax.

We may have lined up the same as the first team but the system didn't suit the players on display. Up front Thomas played down the middle with Ball wide on the right (he's left-footed and really is a target man in the traditional centre forward mould) and Jacobs wide left.

The defence didn't have a great deal to do and I don't remember Morch having to make a save, apart from the two headers that flew past him in the first half - the first from a cross in open play from Freeman's side of the pitch and the second from a corner. Both Freeman and Hoganson had solid games in possession and Freeman, in particular, got forward well.

In midfield Cisse played the John Eustace role. Cisse showed some nice touches and a fair range of passing, but mainly from deep in our own half, and he didn't do much when we weren't in possession. In fairness to Cisse though, he didn't have much midfield support with the inexperienced Dales and Dawkins alongside him.

Up front Jacobs did some good things but wasn't consistent and did some not so good things too. Thomas worked hard but with little to show for it, and Ball wasn't suited to the wide role he was asked to play.

To be honest, this starting 11 looked like they weren't used to playing 4-3-3 and were struggling with the system. They improved somewhat about 15 minutes into the second half when we switched to 4-4-2. Ball in particular looked much happier as a traditional centre forward.

Overall we had more possession than Hull and created a lot more chances than the Tigers but our finishing was wasteful with shots and headers flying high, wide and handsome. Like Morch, I don't think their goalkeeper actually had a save to make either.

Ball will get credited with our goal late in the game but it was an off target shot by a team mate that he deflected into the net. I'm not sure he knew much about it.

I did get my first look at Hendrie (released by Man Utd, offered a trial in the summer, and given a short term contract) when he replaced Dales. Hendrie's a big lad, and looked to have a good first touch, but wasn't really on the pitch long enough for me to form an opinion.

Derby County U21 (0) 1 v 2 (2) Hull City U21

Derby: Morch, Freeman, Hoganson, Cisse, Lelan, Rawson, Ball, N Dawkins (Hendrie 80), Thomas, Dales, Jacobs. Subs: Spiriak, Revan, Wixted, Zanzala.

Hull: Jakupovic, Topliss, Clarke, Wilson, Aimson, McShane, Dixon, Armstrong, Gedo (Barlow 70), McLean (Jahraldo-Martin 62), Fletcher (Chambers 85). Subs: Watson, Clappison.

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