Junior Morias' second-half penalty wasn't enough to prevent defeat against a strong Derby County side in our second EFL Trophy group match.
The forward halved the deficit after Louie Sibley had put the Rams 2-0 ahead with goals either side of half-time.
Luke Williams took the opportunity to rotate his squad, handing Ollie Tipton his first start.
The Wolves loanee played on the left of a back three, with Connell Rawlinson in the centre and Stoke City’s Lewis Macari on the right.
Aaron Nemane and Tobi Adebayo got the nod on the left and right respectively, while stand-in skipper John Bostock partnered Jim O’Brien in central midfield.
Up front, David McGoldrick and Sam Austin supported Morias, while Sam Slocombe took his place between the sticks.
Attacking midfielder Charlie Gill got the nod to sit on the bench along with fellow youngster Luther Munakandafa, with senior figures Aidan Stone, Kyle Cameron, Aden Baldwin, Richard Brindley and Dan Crowley also waiting in the wings.
The hosts, without a game at the weekend, fielded a very strong side and applied good early pressure, Sibley drawing a fine reaction save from Slocombe before, eight minutes later, Rawlinson had to make a big block to deny Max Bird.
Our first threatening moment came shortly afterwards as Macari controlled Bostock’s half-cleared short-corner on the edge of the area before sending his shot narrowly over the angle of post and crossbar.
An entertaining first half continued apace as the Rams responded quickly with a Tyrese Fornah burst into the area, with Slocombe making another excellent save with his foot to divert his shot wide.
But there was nothing the keeper could do on 20 minutes as we couldn’t track Sibley’s run into the area, allowing him the time and space to control a brilliant finish across goal and into the bottom corner of the net.
We continued to offer a decent threat going forward and, moments after Adebayo’s cross-shot had flown a yard over the bar, Bird and Eiran Cashin had to combine to make a vital block from McGoldrick’s effort after Nemane had done brilliantly to cut the ball back from the byline.
Slocombe showed safe hands to hang on to James Collins’ first-time effort and, shortly after Nemane had sent a shot wide of the near post following good work by Adebayo and Austin, the keeper saved well with his feet after Tom Barkhuizen led a quick counter-attack down the left.
It was proving to be a very busy half for Slocombe, who ended the opening 45 with another excellent block to keep Collins’ shot out after Barkhuizen had squared the ball to him in the area after the Rams dispossessed O’Brien in midfield.
The final action of the opening 45 saw Craig Forsyth yellow-carded for a poor challenge on Austin which, on another day, could easily have been a straight red.
Our only half-time change saw McGoldrick replaced by Crowley and the attacking midfielder watched on as a decent chance passed Nemane by within four minutes of the restart, the wing back failing to properly connect with his volley at the back post.
Derby’s response came from Collins, who sent an effort wide following a mazy run by Bird.
And, while Collins’ pursuit of a goal continued to prove futile as his close-range bicycle kick moments later was saved by Slocombe, Sibley was on hand to lash the rebound home and double the Rams’ lead.
We could, and perhaps should, have halved the deficit twice in quick succession when Cashin presented the ball to Morias 20 yards out. The defender recovered brilliantly to block his shot, with the ball rebounding to Crowley who opted to square it to Austin eight yards out. Kane Wilson was on hand to keep his effort out.
Shortly after being cynically felled by Cashin on the edge of the Derby area, Nemane joined Bostock in making way for Cameron and Gill.
But it was another substitute, Munakandafa, on alongside Baldwin for Tipton and Rawlinson, who made the big impact we needed as he showed fine feet to get beyond Fornah and draw the foul in the area. Morias immediately claimed the ball and lashed the penalty in off the underside of the bar.
We continued to have the better of the play but the 90th minute soon came around, with the assistant referee signalling five added minutes.
And in the first of those, a big opportunity passed Morias by as he couldn’t quite bring the ball under his spell after Cashin hadn’t been able to complete a header back to his goalkeeper in the area.
That proved to be the final chance of an entertaining game, with our defeat leaving us needing victory in our final group match at Lincoln City to stand a chance of progression to the knockout stages.
STARTING XI: Slocombe; Tipton (Munakandafa 73'), Rawlinson (Baldwin 73'), Macari; Nemane (Gill 68'), Adebayo; Bostock (Cameron 68'), O'Brien, McGoldrick (Crowley 46'), Austin; Morias
SUBS: Stone, Brindley
BOOKINGS: Gill 90+3'
ATTENDANCE: 5,946 (3,112)