Derby County Ladies Football Club

Ewe Rams Sink Boro to Boost Top 4 Hopes

Match Report by Derby University Football Journalism Student Greg Ahrens

Derby County Ladies kept their hopes of a second place finish alive with a 2-0 victory over Middlesbrough Women FC.

Monique Watson put the Ewe Rams ahead just shy of the hour mark and Jodie Redgrave converted from a corner to give Sam Griffith’s side a vital win over their top four rivals.

Just four points separated the sides before kick-off and in the first half it showed, with neither team able to produce the necessary quality to take the lead. The ball was bobbling across the dry surface and clear chances were few and far between.

Derby had the better of the opening half an hour but with very little threat. Watson was the one who looked most lively, combining well with Redgrave, whose volley was tamely fired straight into the Middlesbrough goalkeeper’s arms.

Middlesbrough’s first major opening came after 32 minutes when Leah Kellogg did well to extend a fingertip to knock the ball wide. From the resulting corner Derby were almost behind, a combination of Hannah Ward and Cara Newton putting their bodies on the line to keep the game scoreless.

Ward made another fantastic block late in the first half as the game became much more open. Derby countered brilliantly but Newton could not convert when through one on one.

Derby looked to up the tempo in the second half with Watson trying to bend one from distance early on. However soon after, Kellogg was called into action again to smother an onrushing attacker.

As the 60th minute drew closer both teams were struggling to find the clinical finish that the game needed. When Watson’s curled strike bounced off the upright, Derby fans may have thought they were never going to get the breakthrough. But, after what felt like an age, the ball spun and nestled into the other corner.

Shortly after, Bell tried an improvised flick goalward from Newton’s cross, but it sailed wide. With the lead in hand and confidence growing, the Ewe Rams took control of the game. Andi Bell linked well with Amy Simms, but the full back could not find the back of the net.

Ward had opportunities to deliver several set pieces into the box as Middlesbrough became frustrated and committed fouls. But each cross was met with a good clearance from Boro.

Derby sealed the win late on when substitute Callan Barber’s 82nd minute corner was met with a fantastic Redgrave header. The squad celebrated together in the dugout as Redgrave was mobbed by her teammates.

From there on Derby controlled possession and the game. The final ten minutes were played to the sound of “concentrate” being bellowed from the home dugout as the Ewe Rams kept focused to secure three vital points.

The win moves Derby to within three points of second place Sunderland after their loss at home to Huddersfield. With just three games left to play in the National League North there is still plenty to be decided.

The Ewe Rams welcome fifth place Huddersfield to Mickleover next Sunday with the Terriers just one point behind them.