Derby County Ladies Football Club

Perfect start to season for the Ewe Rams

Derby County Ladies came away with all three points in their opening game of the FA Women’s Premier League season with a 4-1 at Stoke City Ladies.

Goals from new signings Andi Bell and Kelly Kennaugh, as well as a brace for newly converted striker Nikki Ledgister, secured maximum points for Manager John Bennett’s side, giving them the perfect start to the season.

Bennett gave full debuts to six of his summer signings with Bell and Kennaugh joining fell former Nottingham Forest Ladies players Chloe Hutsby and Shannon Weston on the team sheet. Youngsters Karagh Tait and Amy Sims were also given starts in a new look Ewe Rams side.

A nervous start for the visitors saw the Stoke City take the lead on 10 minutes when the returning Hannah Keryakoplis fired them in front with an unstoppable shot past Derby goalkeeper Sarah Morgan.

The Ewe Rams began to find their rhythm with Molly Johnson causing problems down the left, whilst Ledgister was a constant thorn in the Stoke City Ladies defence. 

On 37 minutes, Derby got a deserved equaliser as perseverance from Legister on the left allowed her to rob the ball in the corner, before driving into the box and laying the ball off to Bell. With her back to goal, a neat back heel was enough to flummox the Stoke City goalkeeper and start her Derby County Ladies career with a goal.

Moments later, the Ewe Rams turned it right around when Johnson’s ball into the box bounced nicely for Ledgister to get her head to the ball first to loop it over the on rushing Stoke City Ladies goalkeeper.

The visitors were now flying and a third goal before the break came with Bell causing problems down the right, returning the favour to Ledgister and laying the ball off for the newly converted striker to bag her second goal and give Derby County Ladies a 3-1 lead at the break.

Knowing that the home side would come out with the bit between their teeth, the Ewe Rams stifled any threat and increased their lead on 55 minutes when Kennaugh rose highest to power home a header from a corner and a 4-1 lead.

With the game falling away for the home side, the challenges came thick and fast from both teams. The added steel in the middle for the Ewe Rams, a welcome site having in the past been accused of being soft when it mattered most.

Further chances came for Derby with Ledgister, Bell and Hannah Ward all having opportunities to add to the score. At the other end goalkeeper Sarah Morgan kept her focus to keep out a couple of Potters chances with outstanding saves, as the game ended with a 4-1 away win and an eye-catching performance.

Manager Bennett said “I’m delighted to pick up three points and it was an excellent performance and it showed the progression that we have been building throughout pre-season.

“I felt we were nervous for the first 15 minutes of the match and we were panicking on the ball at times. However, they composed themselves really well and began to find their stride and we had that confidence that we could score goals.

“This season I believe we have goals all over the pitch and I’m pleased that both Kelly and Andi got their accounts off to a good start. I thought Nikki Ledgister was outstanding again and chased everything down and fully deserved her two goals.

“Our challenge now is to maintain our good start and keep the standards that we have set ourselves. We have no excuses not to keep this standards, we’ve set a high bar at training and the intensity is there for us all to see.

The Ewe Rams are next in action on the 3rd September with a WPL Cup clash against Rotherham United. Venue to be confirmed at a later date.