Preview: Derby County Under-21s vs. Stoke City Under-21s
Derby County Under-21s play host to Stoke City Under-21s in Premier League 2 – Division 2 on Monday evening searching for their first win of the season.
The Rams have lost all but one of their 14 matches at this level, although they only trail a Potters side that have also struggled this season by eight points.
Having finished 12 points cut adrift at the bottom of the standings last season, Derby would have anticipated an equally-tough campaign.
Nevertheless, they would not have expected to lose 12 successive matches, that streak only being ended by a 1-1 draw at fourth-from-bottom Sunderland last month.
A trip to leaders Leeds United was next on their schedule, effectively preventing them from building momentum, and they subsequently lost 3-0 to the Yorkshire giants.
That said, they will at least hope to end the season on somewhat of a high note, at least being able to add to the measly eight goals that they have netted in 14 outings.
Stoke have also endured a poor year at this level of football, winning just two of their 16 matches with the first coming on the opening weekend.
Since then, their only success has been a 4-0 victory over their next opponents, and the Potters head into this fixture having lost five of their most recent six fixtures.
Although they have found the back of the net in their last three outings, Stoke have shipped eight goals, including four at Sunderland on March 6.
While closing down a seven-point gap to Newcastle United is not out of the question, Stoke realistically require maximum points on Monday to keep themselves in contention.
Derby County Under-21s Premier League 2 – Div 2 form:
Stoke City Under-21s Premier League 2 – Div 2 form:
We say: Derby County Under-21s 1-2 Stoke City Under-21s
With Derby’s solitary point this season having come in recent weeks, they will possess a certain level of belief. However, we feel that the visitors should have enough quality in their ranks to edge a hard-fought fixture.