A PEACH of a strike from Jordan Chappell helped United’s second string claim a share of the spoils against Derby as Johnny Ertl returned to action after a lengthy injury lay-off.
Chappell, operating on the right flank, rifled in an unstoppable volley two minutes before the interval after a lovely cross from Ryan Flynn to give the hosts an undeserved lead. Callum Ball equalised in the 65th minute.
For the majority of a one-sided first half, United were on the back foot and indebted to George Long for keeping Derby at bay. The young goalkeeper sent a timely reminder to manager Danny Wilson of his qualities, making a string of fine stops to deny Ball, Tomasz Cywka and Lee Croft.
But, with player-coach Chris Morgan barking out instructions from the dug-out, United soaked up the pressure and duly opened the scoring through Chappell’s stunning volley.
After looking a tad rusty in the early skirmishes, Ertl grew in stature and improved the longer the Central League Central Division clash went on at the club’s Shirecliffe training ground. Seamus Conneely and Elian Parrino also produced solid performances at the back to repel Derby’s forward forays.
Jake Buxton sent a shot narrowly wide after the break before Ball made it 1-1, nodding home Tom Naylor’s inviting centre as United appealed in vain for an offside flag.
With 12 minutes remaining, the hosts had another let off when Croft rattled the post with a fierce right foot effort after Marc Warren had failed to clear Edwin Gyasi’s centre.
United almost grabbed a winner late on but Adam Legzdins thwarted Parrino while Chappell’s rasping shot went into the side-netting.
Morgan said: “Derby brought a strong team up and it was a good test for our boys.
“I thought it was a cracking game. I was disappointed with the manner of their equaliser but we always posed a threat.
“There were a lot of pleasing things from our point of view. George [Long] pulled off some great saves and Ryan Flynn came in and did well. Johnny Ertl got 90 minutes under his belt for the second time since coming back from injury so there were a lot of plus points.
“The attitude of the lads is always spot on and they always give me everything they have got. I think we played some good stuff.
He added: “The manager watches the reserve games and they are there for the players who are not in the first-team to show the manager what they can do. We treat them properly and approach them in the right way.”
UNITED: Long; Conneely, Ertl, Parrino, Warren; Chapell, Harriott, Murray (Gregory 75), Flynn; Tonne, McAllister. Unused substitutes: Pomares, Aksalu.
The reserves clash at Nottingham Forest has been re-arranged for Monday November 21, kick-off 2pm.