After trailing at the break and then seeing Felix Nmecha sent off for dissent, victory looked a tall order for the Blues. Especially against a Derby side which had won nine straight games.
But two goals in as many minutes from Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Jeremie Frimpong turned the tide and earned Gareth Taylor’s side a magnificent victory against a Derby side who ended up with nine men after having two players sent off in added time.
It was the Blues who started on the front foot, with Taylor’s players probing and causing Derby numerous problems early on.
Jayden Braaf powered in a fifth minute shot from a tight angle straight at Derby keeper Sam French.
A minute later skipper Eric Garcia played a superb angled ball into Jeremie Frimpong who fired in a pinpoint cross to Braaf.
However the Dutch winger appeared in two minds whether to shoot or pass and instead he achieved neither aim as the ball bobbled away.
That was the signal for Derby to up the tempo as they set about City with renewed vigour, forcing a series of corners.
A slip by Nathanael Ogbeta put Connor DIxon in the clear but the Rams midfielder’s shot was straight at Moulden
On 18 minutes Louie Sibley opened up the City defence again. Moulden made a brave save to deny the winger before, from the rebound, Dixon hit the bar with delicate chip from a narrow angle.
With half an hour gone City were forced into a change as Braaf went off with a worrying looking shoulder injury, Taylor Richards replacing him.
Within three minutes he almost made an impact, latching onto Knight’s superb ball to put Richards clear but hesitated and couldn’t either shoot or find a team mate.
Derby though continued to threaten and after a Wilson snap-shot was gathered by Moulden they took the lead in first half injury time.
Garcia mistimed a tackle on Sibley just inside the area and referee Aaron Jackson pointed to the spot.
Wilson made no mistake from the spot as Moulden dived the wrong way sending the hosts in ahead.
City needed a big response after the break and it almost arrived on 52 minutes when Frimpong’s electric break saw him break clear before feeding Ben Knight.
However the striker could only send his shot spinning wide of the target.
Within four minutes City’s task got even tougher. Felix Nmecha was shown a straight red by referee Jackson after remonstrating with him for not being awarded a foul.
However, instead of folding City showed their character and class by summoning up a stunning two-goal response in as many minutes.
On 58 minutes the Blues drew level as Taylor Harwood-Bellis headed home a curling Tommy Doyle corner.
It was a stunning strike but even better was to follow on the hour.
From a long ball forward, Frimpong’s lightning pace put him in behind the Rams defence.
There was still plenty to do but the full-back had the poise and confidence to measure himself before firing home a wonderful shot to the delight of his team-mates.
There was still much to do for the Blues with Derby throwing everything at us as they sought a reply.
But City could and should have struck again on the break with both Frimpong and Richards squandering late chances to pit the tie to bed.
With passions running high there was also time for some late drama with Derby having two players sent off in injury time.
First Eiran Cashin was shown a 91st minute red card after a melee in the middle of the pitch.
Then Jason Knight followed suit for dissent on 96 minutes before the referee signalled time to set the seal on a night of high drama.
How we lined up
Louie Moulden was in goal, protected by a back four of Jeremie Frimpong, Nathanael Ogbeta, skipper Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Rowan McDonald, Tommy Doyle and Felix Nmecha formed the midfield axis with D’Margio Wright-Phillips and Jayden Braaf deployed on either flank and Ben Knight the attacking spearhead.
Gareth Taylor’s Under-18s are next in action in the Under-18 Premier League on Saturday, February 9th when we travel to play Stoke City. Kick-off is 11am.