Young Cherries complete comeback win over Derby thanks to Stephens and Greenwood efforts

Cherries came from behind to defeat Derby County
Cherries came from behind to defeat Derby County

JACK Stephens' sublime solo effort sparked a turnaround for Shaun Cooper’s young charges against Derby County in the Premier League cup.

The Rams had taken an early lead against the run of play when Harrison Solomon was well-placed to convert a deep free-kick after seven minutes, leaving Cherries to chase a goal for large swathes of the game.

Stephens stepped up, surging from the back up the pitch before clanging the equaliser in off the post.

Deadline day signing Stephens was named in the starting XI in a bid to boost his match fitness, whilst fellow first-teamers Will Dennis and James Hill were also drafted into the team.

Poole Town loanee Marcus Daws marked his return from a hip injury with a spot in the starting line-up as well.

Cherries almost took a fortunate lead in the opening minutes, with Michael Dacosta Gonzalez nearly rewarded for his attempt to harass the opposition.

The striker managed to get in the way of Derby ‘keeper Harry Evans before he could clear, with the deflected effort ending up just the wrong side of the post.

On top throughout the opening exchanges, Cherries were slightly shocked when they fell behind after seven minutes.

The hosts looked to respond, fashioning a chance on 14 minutes that saw Dominic Sadi lash over from just outside the box.

An innocent enough free-kick from deep was swung into the box by Joe Haigh, with centre-back Solomon alert enough to drift off his marker and stab home the opener.

There was almost a second for the away side when towering striker Bartosz Cybulski saw goalkeeper Dennis push his effort onto the post and out for a corner.

Cherries kept up their hunt for an equaliser, with the Rams just about keeping their lead intact following a frantic spell in their box.

Courtney Clarke got across in time to smack clear another Sadi effort destined for the net, with the chances slowly drying up as the first half progressed.

The second half saw the pattern of half-chances without end product continued, with the hosts close to an equaliser when some good combination play between Sadi, Dacosta Gonzalez and Daws allowed captain Ben Greenwood to fire narrowly wide.

Dennis was kept on his toes at the other end, making a full-stretch save to deny Harry Hawkins a headed goal from the six-yard box.

With the game winding down, Cherries were lacking the spark to ignite an equaliser.

Up stepped senior player Stephens, the eldest player on the pitch, who took the initiative by driving with the ball out of his own half.

Finding no resistance, the loanee from Southampton drove into the box, firing an effort onto the post and into the back of the net to restore parity.

Shortly after, Cherries would find their winner, with captain Greenwood drifting into space on the edge of box.

With time and space, his low drive over powered goalkeeper Evans, placing Cherries into the lead with four minutes to go.

The result leaves Cooper's charges on six points from a possible six in the Premier League Cup.

Their next fixture in the competition comes away at QPR on Monday, November 21.

Cherries: Dennis, Hill, Stephens, Francis, Popoola (Johnson, 62), Greenwood, Okoh, Burgess, Daws (Brown, 72), Sadi, Dacosta Gonzalez (Kinsey-Wellings, 90)

Unused subs: Camis (g/k), Stuttle

Booked: Daws, Hill

Derby: Evans, Brailsford, Kelly, Hawkins, Clarke (Grewal-Pollard, 68), Solomon, Lo-Everton, Haigh (Fapetu, 86), Cybulski, Nunn, Ibrahim

Unused subs: Burton, Roberts,  Wheeldon

Booked: Cybulski, Brailsford

Referee: Dale Wootton