• Will Furness

Derby County Women secure their first win of the season

Derby County Women grabbed their first win of the season as they beat Stoke City Women 3-1 at Mickleover in a feisty encounter in the FA National League Northern Division.

New signing Jade Formaston opened the scoring with her first strike in the white and black, before Hannah Keryakoplis’ bullet header sent Derby to half-time with a comfortable 2-0 advantage.

Jodie Michalska then volleyed home in the 62nd minute to put Derby into the driving seat, and although a consolation goal from Amy Hughes made sure that the Ewe Rams had a nervy last half an hour, they ended up seeing the game out comfortably and putting a deserved three points on the board.

Samantha Griffiths will hope this can now be the catalyst for a good run of form, with aspirations of gaining promotion this season.

There were only two minutes on the clock when Derby scored the opener and the goal won’t be forgotten in a hurry. New signing Formaston drove with the ball and then evaded a challenge excellently.  She then unleashed an unstoppable strike from 25-yards-out, with Stoke goalkeeper Daniela Kosinska unable to stop a stunning strike which nestled into the top left-hand corner giving Derby an ideal start to the encounter.

Stoke’s reply was almost instant and they had a great opportunity to level the game as Hughes broke through the Derby backline but could only blaze her shot over.

The affair had a lightning tempo to it, both sides fighting for every ball and looking dangerous every time they gained entry to the final third. Sophie Domingo was next in line – her direct run pierced through the Stoke backline, but the eventual shot was just dragged wide.

Derby began to control the proceedings and they even had another opportunity to double their advantage in the 16th minute. A great cutback found Michalska but the ball just wouldn’t drop in time and her shot was fired over.

Former Potteries star Keryakoplis was at the heart of everything for the Ewe Rams and she was even involved in a feisty engagement with a Stoke City defender, who was nipping at her ankles.

The affair had a great bite to it – both teams well aware of the fact a win was very much needed to in their campaigns.

Derby continued to play some slick football and forced a good save – this time it was Katie Anderson who tried to squeeze her shot near post, but it was met with an equally impressive save from Kosinska.

The Ewe Rams finally doubled their advantage in the 28th minute. A great corner was whipped into the near post and Keryakoplis got to it first with a brilliant bullet header that gave Derby a deserved 2-0 lead.

The rest of the half had a slightly slower tempo – the Ewe Rams seemingly content with sitting on their lead. Any attempt to threaten goalkeeper Charlotte Clarke was dealt with well by the defence with Sherry McCue especially excellent, sniffing out any potential danger throughout proceedings.

Griffiths made one change at half-time – Callan Barber replaced Katie Anderson in a like-for-like swap in midfield.

The first 15 minutes of the second half was scrappy battle, but the third goal came in the 62nd minute through another corner – this time it looped to the back post and Michalska volleyed home brilliantly for her first of the season to make it 3-0.

Derby then had complete daylight, or so it seemed. Only two minutes later, Stoke clawed their way back into the game – a clever ball from Lizzie Stelle found Hughes who slotted home to bring the game back to life.

The attention for Derby then turned more to seeing the game out rather than adding to the scoreline. However, Stoke did begin to impose themselves on the Derby backline as Steele had a swerving shot from 25 yards that was dealt with well by Clarke.

But that trend didn’t continue and the Ewe Rams battled hard to see out the game and grab a deserved three points.

They now face West Brom on Sunday in an attempt to build on this impressive victory.

By Will Furness