In the penultimate round of matches of the 2017/2018 Premier League 2 Division 1 campaign, Terry Westley’s West Ham United Development Squad travel to face the Development Squad of Derby County managed by Darren Wassall in what promise to be an intuiting matchup between two sides fighting very different battles at opposite ends of the table.
The Young Hammers go into the journey off the back of consecutive away victories over Manchester City and Everton in the PL2 last week, while the Young Rams are coming off a heavy 2-4 away loss to Tottenham Hotspur, the visitors are the favourites for this one.
The clash is scheduled to take place tomorrow afternoon (Monday 16 April 2018), with a kick-off time of 3 PM BST, just hours before West Ham’s first-team take on Stoke City at London Stadium, and as is customary with PL2 matches, no live television coverage available for viewing in the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, there will also be no live radio commentary being offered by any UK outlet to listen to, but never fear, if you head over to @MooreThanAClub on Twitter, you can be sure to find build-up, updates and reaction to and from the encounter.
The visit of Westley’s men will be held at Derby’s Moor Farm Training Centre in partnership with the University of Derby, home to their first-team and Academy and regular host of U23 games.
Tomorrow afternoon will be the first time that the East Londoners have visited the venue, a training pitch within the Training Centre, since the restructure of English youth football and subsequent formation of the Premier League 2, the Rams U23s also user other grounds such as England’s St George’s Park and Pride Park Stadium.
Home manager Wassall has seen many of many of his young stars graduate into the first-team since the start of the season and end of the last campaign, but thankfully for him, doesn’t appear to be suffering with any major injury problems ahead of a crucial seven days for his team.
There is still a large talent pool for the home Xl to be picked from and expect the likes of wonderkid strikers 18-year-old and 20-year-old Cameron Cresswell and Alex Babos and goalkeeper starlet Josh Barnes to feature and have their own impacts on the match.
Meanwhile visiting manager Westley has seen his own team return to near full-strength, taking away loss through loans, over the closing few months of the season with midfielder and defender Dan Kemp and Noha Sylvestre remaining the only stars of note out.
Derby must be wary of captain Marcus Browne, fresh from five goals in his last two matches, while his attacking midfield partner Nathan Holland, only coming back from injury a few weeks ago himself, is also a huge threat, shot-stopper Nathan Trott has been on fine firm of late and will be looking to carry that on.
The Development Squads of Derby County and West Ham United have met scarcely in recent years, only facing off with each other three times in the last three campaigns.
Up until November 2017, the last time these two clashed, the Young Hammers had been unbeaten over the stretch, however, County emerged 1-5 winners at the London Stadium six months ago.
On the scoresheet on that Friday night for the then visitors, who have lost their last five in all competitions, was brace-scorer Offrande Zanzala, Luke Thomas, Charles Vernam and Jayden Bogle, rendering a late consolation from Grady Diangana worthless.
Tomorrow’s visitors will certainly have more confidence this time around, however, with a far superior record over their own previous five outings, three wins against Liverpool the Citizens and the Toffees, all on the road, a draw with Tottenham and a solitary defeat to Chelsea.
The Academy of Derby County, which encompasses the Under-23, Under-18 and other youth teams, came together shortly after the formation of the Rams’ first-team all the way back in 1884.
Since then, the reserves or U23 side have been moderately successful, lifting the Central League title five times in 1936, 1972, 1986, 2010 and 2011, also triumphing in two Premier Reserve League Souths and a single United Counties League.
Famous products of County’s Academy and reserve teams have included the likes of current Premier League stars Jeff Hendrick, Will Hughes and Lee Grant and not to mention, names such as ex-Wales International Lewin Nyatanga, Everton legend Lee Carsley and former Northern Ireland International goalkeeper Lee Camp.
More recently, the Young Rams were one of the founding members of the PL2 Division 1 last season, surviving comfortably but finding themselves in a relegation battle under Wassall this term, sitting 11th in the standings with two matches remaining, a full 10 points and six places behind their Monday afternoon opponents.
So, now that the Moor Farm Training Centre scene has been well and truly set for an exciting afternoon of Premier League 2 football, can the hosts give their hopes of achieving a second consecutive Division 1 survival a major boost with three points?
Or, can the visitors capitalise on Derby’s rut to make it four on the spin on the road and go level on points with Swansea City in fourth position? Think you know? Find us on Twitter @MooreThanAClub to send us your score predictions for the clash and join the pre-match discussion.