Derby County Ladies Football Club

Late Goal Salvages Point in East Midlands Derby

Match Report by Derby University Football Journalism Student Jake Dance

Derby County Ladies came away from the second leg of the A52 derby with a point as they drew 1-1 with Nottingham Forest Ladies in the FA Women’s National League North.

Hannah Constantinou struck first in front of a crowd of 1252 at the Eastwood Community Football Club ground. The Ewe Rams continued to dominate from this point onwards and were rewarded with an equaliser very late on in the form of a Stephanie Smith strike.

One point almost turned into three as Jodie Redgrave clattered the crossbar seconds before the final whistle. The result means Derby remain unbeaten against Forest this season and will be proud of their character that earned them the point.

Redgrave looked bright from the first whistle as she looked to have given her side an early lead, looking to repeat Cara Newton’s heroics from the previous week. Just five minutes into the first half Aja Aguirre parried a good shot into the feet of the Derby attacker, who placed the ball into a gaping net, however the offside flag was raised.

The actual opening goal came only six minutes after the away side had thought they were ahead. Constantinou fired in a looped cross from the corner flag that saw Sarah Morgan reaching high for the awkward delivery. The shot stopper managed to get fingertips to the ball, but it flicked over and into the net.

From this point on, Derby Ladies dominated. The team consistently looked to pass out from the back and play dangerous balls into the box from the flanks, with Amy Sims heavily involved.

Monique Watson tested Aguirre from 20 yards, forcing a diving save from the shot stopper. The ball spilled into the six-yard box as Andi Bell sprinted through, but the Forest keeper was quick to react and pounced on the loose ball.

The Ewe Rams continued to search for a goal as they strived to go level with their rivals. This time it was Bell that broke through, using her strength and pace to beat her marker. The striker aimed to roof the ball into the net at the near post, but instead saw it splashed against the side netting.

Nottingham Forest had a massive chance to extend their lead on the 29th minute as they looked to counter after attacking pressure from their opponents. Katie Middleton dashed through the Derby defence and played an inch perfect ball across goal to Jordan Atkin. The goal was gaping but the number 10 skewed the ball wide from just a few yards out.

A succession of superb chances soon followed for the side in white. Bell rushed through again with a shot on goal, before Redgrave took down a beautifully weighted pass and hit it on the half-volley. The ball slammed into the ground just wide of the far post.

For Derby, the majority of the second half was spent battling to get the ball up the pitch and into dangerous areas. This soon changed when former Ewe, Precious Hamilton, was introduced to the game.

Hamilton looked dangerous from the moment she stepped onto the pitch and gave The Reds a much needed attacking edge. On 64 minutes, the attacker wrapped her foot around the ball from 30-yards out as it looked destined for the top corner. Morgan had other ideas, however, as she leapt off the ground, jabbing the ball with outstretched fingers to send it around the post.

The visiting side equalised in spectacular style in the last minute of regular time. Derby were awarded another corner for their constant attacking pressure. Stephanie Smith took command and gave the short option. She received the ball, turned lightning quick, skipped past the defender and tidily curled her effort into the top left corner.

There was even more late drama, with Redgrave at the centre again. The ball fell to the edge of the area where the number 11 slammed her laces through it. Her shot rose with ferocity but crashed off the crossbar in the dying seconds of the game. The final whistle rang out as the goal remained vibrating.

Derby will be looking to extend their recent good run of performances as they face current league leaders Blackburn this Sunday.