DOMINIC Knowles struck a late winner as Burton Albion came from 2-0 down to beat Derby County 3-2 in the final of the 124th Bass Charity Vase.
The young striker finished Jimmy Phillips’ through ball from the edge of the area to follow up goals from trialist Michael Spillane and striker Michael Symes.
The Rams had shot into a two-goal lead thanks to Mason Bennett and Johnny Russell and, unsurprisingly, were well on top of the Brewers in the first half.
But Albion stuck to their task and played some decent football.
Spillane, formerly of Southend United and Dagenham & Redbridge, did well at centre-half and will continue to train with the Brewers in the coming days.
After the break, Derby’s changes knocked them out of their stride and Burton came into the game – eventually deserving their win to retain the trophy.
First-team coach Mark Sale said: “We changed the formation at half-time – I think Derby dominated the game up until then – but second half the boys did really, really well.
“We were pleased with the energy, we created some good chances and I think we deserved it in the end.”
Albion included none of the side which started in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Rochdale.
There were starts, though, for Jack Dyer, Alex MacDonald, Adam Reed, Matty Palmer, Phillips, Knowles and Symes.
The Rams included four of the side which began the 2-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion – Richard Keogh, Craig Forsyth, Craig Bryson and Russell.
The match began at a friendly pace and Derby had the lead after just seven minutes.
MacDonald was caught in possession by the touchline and Michael Jacobs fired a lovely cross across the box for Bennett to take a touch and slam home from six yards.
It was 2-0 10 minutes later following a good period of possession from the Rams.
They switched the ball from left to right and Bennett crossed low for Russell to crash the ball in from close range.
MacDonald had Burton’s first effort at goal on 25 minutes, poking just over from the edge of the box after picking up a loose ball.
Neither side threatened too much before the Brewers pulled one back in first-half stoppage time.
Adam Smith had endured a torrid 45 minutes at right-back for the Rams and was beaten with regularity by Phillips.
He committed two fouls in quick succession as the half ended and picked up a yellow for the second, a trip on Knowles.
MacDonald swung the free kick in and Spillane nudged it past ex-Albion keeper Saul Deeney from two yards.
Albion then levelled shortly into the second half following a lovely move.
Palmer found Knowles on the right and the young striker, moved out to the wing for the early part of the second half, crossed for Symes to finish neatly from 10 yards.
Jake Buxton, another ex-Brewer, rattled the bar on 54 minutes from a Ben Davies cross before Knowles had a shot blocked following an attractive flowing move from Albion, with MacDonald skinning on-loan Tottenham Hotspur man Smith and finding Palmer, whose cross deserved a goal.
Stand-in skipper Dyer then pulled off a brilliant tackle tracking back as Jacobs burst through. He had to time his challenge perfectly to avoid a penalty – and did just that.
MacDonald, who improved the longer the game went on, stung Deeney’s palms with a ferocious strike from 22 yards.
Knowles then won it with 30 seconds left.
Phillips played a gorgeously-timed through ball between Buxton and James Hanson and Knowles took the ball on and kept calm before finishing from 18 yards via a big deflection off Deeney.
GOALS: Bennett 7, Russell 17 (Rams); Spillane 45+1, Symes 49, Knowles 90 (Brewers).
BREWERS: Lyness; Dyer (capt), Spillane, Slade, Currie; MacDonald, Reed, Palmer, Phillips; Knowles, Symes (Harness 76).
RAMS: Deeney; Smith (Vernam 81), Keogh (capt) (Buxton 46), Hanson, Forsyth (Lowe 46); Davies, Eustace, Bryson (Martin 46); Jacobs; Bennett, Russell (Coutts 46).
REFEREE: Andre Marriner (West Midlands).