Derby County Ladies Football Club

Last Gasp Ewes Stun Bantams

Match Report by Derby University Football Journalism Student Jake Dance

Derby County Ladies secured a last-minute victory as they emerged 2-1 winners against a resilient Bradford City in the FA Women’s National League North.

The Ewe Rams had to turn over a one goal deficit as a defensive error allowed Falone Sumaili to give the visitors the advantage. The home side fought back in the second half as Stephanie Smith scored early on from range. Grace Harrison then completed the comeback with the very last kick of the game.

Derby dominated the majority of the game at the University ground, but Bradford remained defensively resolute throughout. The West Yorkshire side battled extremely well to frustrate and defend against a team they had previously lost 10-0 to back in January.

Most of the attacking chances in the opening minutes came from the right-hand side, as Cara Newton went close with her trickery and pace as the striker came close eight minutes in as she attempted to drill the ball in at the near post, but the connection wasn’t clean and it was scuffed into the side-netting.

Jodie Redgrave also looked to cause the visitors trouble on numerous occasions early-on. The attacker twisted out from her defenders several times, often laying the ball off to Emily Joyce to shoot from range.

The Ewe Rams looked almost certain to score as Andi Bell wriggled through Bradford’s back line and attempted to curl her shot around the goalkeeper. Aimee Routledge was quick to react however, and managed to stretch her palm to it.

Sumaili stunned the home side as she opened the scoring for the Bantams latching onto a stray back pass from Karagh Tait and went through one-on-one with Sarah Morgan. The Derby shot-stopper rushed out to meet the attacker, but the number 10 skipped past and calmly slotted the ball into the open net from a distance – despite Hannah Ward’s best efforts to rush back.

The remainder of the first half saw the Ewe Rams taking shots from distance as Bradford defended in numbers. Smith had several of these attempts, and on 34 minutes blasted a fantastic shot from 35-yards out that clattered off the upright.

Routledge kept her side in the game once more as the first half was coming to an end. A series of headers from a Derby corner saw the ball finally edged towards the net, but the keeper denied the equaliser with a terrific reflex save.

The second half brought plenty more chances for the home side as Andi Bell was replaced by Monique Watson. Her fresh legs and tight turns caused several problems for Bradford as they looked to hold onto their narrow lead.

It didn’t take long for the Ewe Rams to equalise in the latter period of the game. The consolidated Bradford defence managed to clear yet another Derby cross five minutes into the second half, however this fell to the feet of Smith who was waiting to pounce. The midfielder allowed the ball to drop and instantly blasted it on the half-volley out of reach of Routledge.

Combative midfielder Joyce almost put her side ahead 10 minutes later with a close range header from a corner, but the Bradford keeper was again well positioned to deny the home side.

After missing several more chances it looked as though the visitors would be walking away with their first point of the season, frustrating the Ewe Rams.

However, Just as the referee began to lift his whistle to signal the end of the game, the ball was lifted into the Bradford penalty area. Second-half substitute Harrison positioned herself and struck the ball on the turn for what would be the final kick of the game as it sailed past an outstretched Routledge to send the home fans into raptures and denying the visitors a much deserved point.

The win brings Derby above Stoke to fifth in the league table and will be hoping to carry on their winning ways on Thursday when they face Sheffield in a 7:45pm Kick-Off at Mickleover Sports FC.