Derby County Ladies Football Club

PENALTY KICK FA CUP JOY, AS EWE RAMS SEE OFF PLUCKY TIGERS

Derby County Ladies needed penalties to progress through to the Women’s FA Cup 3rd round against determined Northern League One side Hull City.

John Bennett’s side dominated large periods of the game, taking a first half lead through Nikki Ledgester; however the visitors showed why they came into the game unbeaten this season, by not only equalising, but then keeping Ewe Rams at bay throughout the remainder of both normal and extra time.

Whilst Bennett named a largely unchanged side from the one that had impressively won 3-0 at Huddersfield Town in the Premier League the previous week, he added 16 year old Anita Gaspar to the bench. The youngster is the latest of a number of players that have come through from the clubs Development squad this season and having come on with 20 minutes of normal time left, she not only accredited herself excellently, but made it a debut to remember as she slotted home the decisive penalty kick. According to Bennett, whilst he was disappointed not to have put the game to bed prior to it going to penalty kicks, there were plenty of positives.

“We knew that Hull would come into the game without any fear and they showed exactly why they have done so well this season. They were well organised, disciplined in terms of their game management and played to their strengths. I can see them being a Premier League club sooner rather than later. From the outside it will appear that we’ve needed penalties to progress against a lower league opponent; however I felt that we played well for the majority of the 120 minutes and certainly deserve to be in the hat for the next round.”

Bennett feels that the gap between the Premier League and League One is getting closer and expects a similar test, when his side face Brighouse Town in the league cup. ” You only have to look at the current top two in the Premier League table for evidence, with both Middlesbrough and Leicester City absolutely flying on the back of excellent campaigns last time round, following promotion. In addition to that both Nottingham Forest and Stoke City have exited the FA Cup today, on the back of home defeats to clubs operating a tier below. I named a strong side today and the reasons for doing that were there for all to see. It goes without saying that we’ll be taking Brighouse just as seriously.”

In terms of debutant Gasper, Bennett was delighted with her performance and also sighted the penalty taker list, as evidence that the clubs willingness to provide young players with a chance is paying off. ” We had no qualms about bring Anita on today despite what was a stake and she has rewarded that belief by not only not looking out of place, but stroking home the deciding penalty. Three of our five penalty takers were 17 years of age or under, which speaks volumes in terms of our belief in them and the belief that they have in themselves on the back of being exposed to first team football.”