Derby County Ladies Football Club

Ewe Rams Start 2020 with Win in A50 Derby

Match Report by Derby University Football Journalism Student Greg Ahrens

Derby County Ladies kicked off the New Year with a win as they beat Stoke City Women 2-1 at Mickleover Sports FC in the FA National League Northern Division.

First half goals from Ellie Gilliatt and Sophie Domingo put them in a strong position at the break before the Ewe Rams created a number of chances in the second half but were unable to extend their lead.

Stoke pulled one back 13 minutes before full-time but Sam Griffiths’ side held firm to secure all three points.

Playing their first game in almost a month, there were no signs of rustiness as the Ewes started the brighter of the two sides. Hannah Keryakoplis showed some tidy footwork to wrangle a yard of space, but her 25 yard effort was tame and easily saved.

With just over ten minutes on the clock, Derby found Gilliatt on the counter who fizzed a cutting pass through the Stoke Defence to the onrushing Megan Tinsley. Her dinked effort beat the keeper and was almost turned in by new signing Jodie Michalska, but somehow a Stoke defender managed to scramble it away for a corner.

Not long after, Derby did take the lead. Amy Sims, usually a right back, was playing in midfield for Derby and her energy and direct running was a persistent problem for Stoke. She did magnificently to cut inside from the right flank and lay the ball across the box to Keryakoplis. The initial effort from the striker was blocked but the rebound fell kindly to an unmarked Gilliatt, who made no mistake from eight yards out.

The team did not rest though and were immediately putting Stoke under more pressure, winning several corners in a row. Stoke presented a constant threat on the counter but Griffiths kept her players focused. Tinsley demonstrated a fine example of how to cope when she ran 30 yards, outpacing her opponent, to calmly snuff out any danger and send Derby back on the attack.

Eventually the pressure paid off, as Derby’s sixth corner of the half was cleared only as far as Domingo. With little time to think, and several opposition players rushing towards her, she fired a speculative effort towards goal. The ball curled gracefully into the top corner and Domingo was swamped by joyful teammates.

Stoke had their best chance of the half just moments before the break as Derby were caught dwelling too long at the back. The ball was nicked from the Ewe Rams in a dangerous position and they were fortunate to see the following header sail narrowly wide of Sarah Morgan’s post.

The second half was a lot tighter as the game became a fierce midfield battle. Both sides committed fouls and clear cut chances became few and far between. It was a very physical game as Stoke looked to fight their way back into the match.

With just 20 minutes left to play, and fatigue setting in, the game became more stretched and open. Gilliatt was finding more space to roam and Derby were finding some confidence again. After another trademark run, Sims cut back for Keryakoplis, but the striker’s effort comfortably cleared the crossbar.

It was during this end to end action that Derby were caught out. A clever pass from Stoke caused some confusion allowing Stoke’s Abby Hunt to prod the ball between the legs of Morgan and into the empty net.

As Stoke pushed for an equaliser, Derby had two chances to seal the victory. The first saw Gilliatt breaking down the right hand side and freeing substitute Ellie May, but she placed her finish narrowly wide. Less than a minute later, with time almost up, May had another opportunity.

This time Michalska crossed the ball into her strike partner’s feet and May did all she could to direct the shot on target. The outstretched foot of former Derby keeper Charlotte Clarke was enough to keep the score at 2-1 and that was how it finished.

Griffiths will be delighted that her side held on for an important win to start the New Year and with consecutive home games to come against Burnley and Hull, the Ewe Rams will be hoping it is the start of a good run.