DERBY COUNTY LADIES
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EWE RAMS SECURE HIGHEST EVER LEAGUE FINISH WITH VICTORY OVER FOREST
A goal apiece from leading scorer, Mel Johnson and midfielder Lisa Giampalma saw Derby County Ladies sign their season off with a deserved 2-1 victory over rivals Nottingham Forest in the FA Women’s Premier League. The result not only avenged Ewe Rams FA Cup exit earlier in the season, but coupled with results elsewhere meant that John Bennett’s side were able to secure a 5th placed finish, equalling the clubs previous highest ever league placing. According to Bennett, the manner of the performance and season as a whole provide real grounds for optimism as his squad go into the summer break.
” The most pleasing thing about the Forest game for me was that the players proved to both me and themselves that they have the necessary resilience to see games out. One of things that we have said we need to improve on next season is mental toughness and improved game management and both of those were there for all to see during the closing stages of the Forest game. Maybe the players had the cup loss on their minds, and there was also the carrot of the final league position up for grabs; however next season we need to be more consistent in the delivery of what we saw on Sunday.”
In terms of the season as a whole, Bennett was quick to praise both his players and management team on a successful campaign. ” When I came back into the club in the summer our Chief Executive was very clear in terms of the what he wanted from us. In terms of results he asked that we deliver a run in one of the cup competitions and a top five league position, in order to get the club back on track in terms of its recent upward trajectory in the Premier League, after a disappointing campaign last time out. In addition to that he was keen to see the club return to playing the attractive brand of football that is synonymous with the club and to integrate more players from the clubs academy into the first team. “
” If you look at those individually, our run in the FA Cup made the national press, with the Forest game drawing a record crowd, whilst league position wise despite suffering the worst injury crisis that I have ever come across in all my time in the game, we achieved a top five finish, which I’m convinced would have been top three without the level of injuries sustained and dropped points in games that we should have won. In terms of the style of play, I don’t think its any coincidence that we enjoyed the highest average gate in the league, with our fans very much voting with their feet, whilst player wise a number of exciting players have seamlessly made the step up from our academy to the first team group. The players and coaches not just at senior level, but within the academy should all feel very proud of that, as each has played a part “
NOTTS COUNTY LADIES DEMISE PRESENTS CLUB
AND CITY WITH MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY
According to Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the decision to re-appoint Bennett last summer has proved to be an excellent one in terms of getting the clubs on field ambitions back on track, as the club looks to realise its ambition of joining the women’s games elite in the Women’s Super League. ” It’s been well documented in the media that the two people that I most admire in the men’s game in terms of how they run their football clubs, are Huw Jenkins at Swansea and Ben Robinson down the road at Burton Albion, and I have looked to replicate elements of what they have achieved and how they have done it during my time to date at Derby County Ladies.
“If you look at Swansea they have risen from the depths of League 2 to becoming an established Premier League club at the same time as imbedding a brand of attractive football for their supporters to enjoy. A bit closer to home and Ben has progressed Burton Albion from regional non league to the Championship in small achievable steps, as opposed to the type of seismic leaps that more often than not are non sustainable. Up until last season we had improved ourselves in each of the last few years, both on the pitch league position wise and off the pitch in terms of developing the clubs infrastructure. The last campaign was disappointing in terms of our on field progress, so changes needed to be made. JB is someone that I have always held in the highest regard and its come as no surprise to me that he has delivered everything that has been asked of him”
Having got the clubs on the field progress back on track, Gibb is excited in terms of the future as the club embarks on what he believes is a next chapter in their meteoric rise from local parks football to the fringe of the Women’s Super League. ” The demise of Notts County Ladies came as a shock to just about everyone within the game; however what it has done is given not just Derby County but the city of Derby a one off, unforeseen and unique opportunity to cement both our club and city as the leading light in the East Midlands, in a sport that is soon to overtake Rugby as the second most participated sport behind men’s football. Leicester City, Nottingham Forest and ourselves all operate at Premier League level and will all be vying to stake claim to being the regions biggest club, however for me that needs to be a broader city wide aspiration. “
” We are very shortly due to announce two significant partnerships with locally based educational partners that will be the envy of a number of WSL clubs, let alone those at Premier League level. Looking at the wider picture we have held discussions with Derby City Council around whether there is an appetite to make Derby the leading city in the region for the fastest growing sport in the UK. I genuinely believe that if that appetite is there and we keep doing what we are doing then that can be realised.”
BENNETT SEES POSITIVES DESPITE SIGNIFICANT LATE ALBION LEVELLER
Derby County Ladies head into the final weekend of the season with ‘ everything to play for ‘ according to manager, John Bennett despite hopes of achieving the highest league finish in the clubs history appearing to have gone, on the back of current Premier League champions, West Bromwich Albion scoring two goals in the last ten minutes in Tuesdays nights 2-2 away draw.
Bennett went into the Albion game in the knowledge that a win, followed by one against second bottom Nottingham Forest on Sunday would almost certainly have seen his side finish fourth, as the club continues on an impressive journey that has seen it rise from the ninth tier of English women’s football, to within a solitary promotion of the prestigious Women’s Super League.
Ewe Rams much publicised injury woes, has seen their changing room resemble something akin to Emergency Ward 10 for much of the campaign and they started the game once again without any recognised centre halves; however an exhilarating end to end game saw an impressive away support buoyed by goals from captain Mel Johnson and Marie Wayne, before the home side scored twice within the last ten minutes to secure what they will feel was a deserved share of the spoils.
Whilst disappointed at both the result and its significance, Bennett was quick to praise his side, and has asked for more of the same when they entertain local rivals Forest Sunday’s curtain closer.
“ The players left nothing on the pitch on Tuesday and whilst we are naturally disappointed to have come away with just a point, having been two goals to the good so late in the game, I felt that the performance was by and large excellent. Of course there were some negatives, with our game management and mental strength having come at short when it was most needed. Whilst that is something that I am determined for us to improve on next season, our slick passing game, movement, and ability to move the ball through the thirds was there for all to see and that is something that fills me with a lot of optimism going forwards.”
Another further positive for Bennett this season has been the emergence of a number of players from the clubs academy and he was pleased to see the latest pair off the production line, Angel Craig-Tapper and Becky Clewes, secure minutes on the pitch.
“ Despite what was at stake, I had no qualms in bringing on Angel and Becky and I felt that Angel in particular caused Albion quite a few problems with her pace and control. If we are honest, injuries have forced our hand to an extent this season; however to have seen so many 16 and 17 year old players turn out for us over the course of it bodes really well for next season and beyond. It’s a testament to the fantastic work that our Development staff along with Academy Director, Dave Cholerton and his coaches are doing at grass roots level.”
Due to the clubs Mickleover Sports FC ground being unavailable, the Forest game, which kicks off at 2pm, will be played at the Steve Bloomer facility at Derby’s Racecourse. According to Bennett Ewe Rams are desperate to avenge their FA Cup exit earlier in the season to the same opponents, knowing that victory could still see his side finish fourth, but would probably lead to a joint highest ever finish of fifth.
“ The FA Cup exit hurt for a number of reasons, not least the fact that our support that day was phenomenal and we felt we let them down. The fans have been absolutely brilliant this season and we are keen to reward them by signing off in style. With that in mind entry to the game will be free of charge and we hope to see as many fans out as possible, for what is always a keenly contested derby.”
LANDMARK GAME DISAPOINTMENT FOR BENNETT, AS FOXES STEAL THE SHOW
Despite a crippling injury list and missing personnel, Derby County Ladies manager, John Bennett was disappointed with the overall performance of his side as they suffered a 3-1 home loss to neighbours Leicester City at the weekend in the Women’s Premier League, in what was his 100th game in charge of the side over the course of two separate spells at the club.
Bennett had laid down a challenge to his side in the build up to the game, stating that wins in two of their final three games would almost certainly bring about the clubs highest ever league position; however his young squad, which consisted of a number of players from the clubs academy, struggled to find any sort of rhythm or tempo and appeared edgy during the opening exchanges. It therefore came as little surprise that the visitors took the lead on 20 minutes with an effort from the edge of the 18 yard box beating Sarah Morgan in the Derby goal.
Derby enjoyed improved spells either side of the break and levelled shortly after the re-start through top scorer, Mel Johnson; however a combination of poor decision making whilst in possession and individual errors saw the Foxes re-take the lead in the 65th minute before adding a third shortly afterwards to take the spoils and leapfrog Derby and climb to fourth. Whilst accepting of the limited experience within his side, Bennett felt that the performance fell short of expectation and has called on his players to finish the season strongly.
“Any team at this level is going to struggle without a recognised centre half and key players missing; however the performance both individually and collectively wasn’t acceptable, falling well short of our normal standards. I know it and more importantly the players know it. “
“ We’ve got a weekend off now before making the short trip to last season’s champions West Brom, before finishing the season off against Nottingham Forest. With two games to go we can go one of two ways. We can feel sorry for ourselves, go through the motions and limp through to the summer break; or we can take heart that our start of season targets and expectations still remain very achievable, despite the issues that we have experienced.
I will be expecting nothing less than Option B and will be looking for the group to give absolutely everything they’ve got in order to give us the best possible chance to realise our objectives. To do that on the back of the injuries that we have sustained would provide a huge testament to everyone in the changing room”
BENNETT SETS DOWN CHALLENGE, FOLLOWING IMPRESSIVE WIN AT NEWCASTLE
Derby County Ladies manager, John Bennett was delighted with his side’s impressive 4-1 victory at Newcastle United at the weekend and has laid down a challenge to his squad as they go into the final three games of the season.
Ewe Rams welcomed back goalkeeper, Sarah Morgan for the long trip North, along with recently signed former player Marie Wayne, who had been drafted in on the back of an injury list that Bennett had described in the build up to the game as “ the worst I have ever experienced “.
Historically Derby have not fared well at Newcastle and found themselves a goal down on 15 minutes, with Beth Diamond latching onto a well executed through ball to fire the home side in front.
Derby slowly began to exert their own passing and movement game and deservedly equalised on 30 minutes when Lauren Cresswell was able to tap in from close range following an excellent interchange between Nicole Dale and Mel Johnson,
Bennett’s side has been decimated by injuries this season, with the centre half position in particular seemingly cursed. Unfortunately any thoughts of a respite on that front were cruelly dented on 40 minutes when the clubs only fit centre half, Megan Clarkson pulled up with a knee injury and had to be replaced by teenage centre forward, Hannah Jones, who slotted into the back line alongside make shift centre half, Wayne. The change seemed to galvanise the visitors and Lisa Giampalma fired home with the last kick of the first half to put Derby 2-1 up.
Having got their noses in front, Ewe Rams started the second period strongly with the emphasis more on building on their lead as opposed to protecting it, with Dale, Johnson and substitute Ellie May all going close, before skipper Johnson gave the home keeper no chance ten minutes from time to net her 70th goal for the club and provide Derby with an all important two goal cushion. This seemed to demoralise the Magpie, who have endured a testing campaign and May was able to capitalise on good work from Jones just before the final whistle to give Derby a thoroughly deserved 4-1 victory taking Derby up to fifth, following home and away defeats to unbeaten champions, Blackburn Rovers.
Bennett was understandably happy with the result and has laid down a challenge to his players as they enter the final leg of the season.
“Whilst I didn’t feel that we started the game with enough commitment, the reaction from the players after Newcastle went ahead was exactly what I wanted to see and from that point on we dominated the game, having chances to score earlier than we did. There are three games left and whilst I have a third of my squad sat in the treatment room, the rest of the group have absolutely everything to play for. “
“ Other than a slight blip last season, if you look at the club over the past five years we have improved our league position by a place per season as we look to build towards challenging for promotion to the holy grail that is the Women’s Super League. The aim this season was to therefore secure a top four finish and enjoy a run in one of the cups. We’ve already achieved the latter and are one point off third in the league, so it’s within our gift to achieve the former.
“If we can secure two wins from the last three, then the likelihood is that we’ll meet our league objective as well as achieving our highest number of Premier League wins in a campaign. If we can achieve that in the face of a number of long term injuries to key personnel, then I think that as a group we will be able to look back of a hugely successful season with an immense amount of pride. “
This weekend Ewe Rams entertain local rivals Leicester City who sit a place behind them on goal difference. Rams fans should note that the fixture has had to be re-located to the Steve Bloomer Racecourse facility due to their Don Amott Arena home ground being unavailable.
Ewe Rams Chief Full Of Praise For Clubs Development Side
Derby County Ladies Chief Executive Duncan Gibb reflected on a 6th straight Derbyshire County Cup success, after a 5-0 win over Glossop North End ensured the trophy remained in the hands of the Ewe Rams.
Goals from Emily Gillott, a brace from Jade Eaglefield and a stunning strike from Danni Oxley, to go with an own goal, were enough to see the Development Team take home the trophy.
And CEO Duncan Gibb was quick to praise the team and was delighted to see the trophy remain in the club’s hands as he said “For me there were a number of pleasing things today for both Derby County and women’s football within the county.
“Historically the club has fielded either its full first team, or part of it in this competition; however the Development side have taken on the mantle this season and not only ensured that the cup has been retained but done so by going through the whole competition without conceding a goal.
“There is a real ‘ togetherness ‘ that resonates from this group of players, which has remained intact despite a change in the management structure half way through the campaign. Both players and management deserve a huge amount of credit for that.
“Looking at the wider county picture, the values within women’s football across Derbyshire were there for all to see today. Glossop North End were an absolute credit to their club, fighting for every ball from minutes one to ninety despite being camped in their own half for most of them. In circumstances like that it’s easy for heads to drop; however their attitude and commitment was the talk of the terraces today and rightly so.”
Double Injury Blow Knocks Ewe Rams
Derby County Ladies worst fears have been confirmed with the news that both Emily Jeffery and Sam Griffiths will likely be ruled out, not only for the remainder of this season, but likely the 2017/18 campaign too.
Both have had confirmation that they have torn their Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and will require surgery and a hefty rehabilitation process before they will be able to don the Ewe Rams shirt once more, robbing Manager John Bennett of his two most senior players.
Jeffery suffered the injury in a 5-0 win over Fylde after turning awkwardly when competing for the ball and ‘Jeffo” as she is often referred as was given the results to her MRI scans this week, with confirmation of the injury as well as a sprained Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and a badly bruised Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), to go with damaged quad and patellar tendons.
Jeffery said “Unfortunately it’s not been the news I was hoping for and it looks like I’ll be on the sidelines for a lengthy period. It’s a blow not only for myself but for the team and it has come at the time when we were putting some momentum together, so i’m pretty gutted.
“I felt I was in the best condition of my career and was also training to run a half-marathon, which has had to be shelved too. Hopefully i’ll get the surgery as quick as possible and get working on the rehab as soon as Jake ( Shaw, DCLFC Physio) will allow me too and get back on the pitch as soon as possible.
“The squad have dealt with adversity before, so I know they’ll bounce back quickly and they won’t get rid of me that easily, I’ll still be in and around them and shouting at them from the sidelines at both training and games.”
That news was compounded by the confirmation of Sam Griffiths injury, which barely a week later left the defensive situation for the Ewe Rams in a horrendous state.
‘Griff’ as she is known, again fell awkwardly in the 3-2 defeat to Champions Blackburn Rovers LFC back in March and like Jeffery, ruptured her ACL with a slight Meniscus Tear as well as bad bone bruising and will be going under the knife at the end of the month, with her rehabilitation process lengthy with no set timescale for a return.
As the club’s Director of Football Griff’s influence is felt across the whole club and with her experience and knowledge across the game is there for all to see but she hopes that she will be back as quickly as possible and said “It’s been a tough few weeks, since it occurred but i’ve got an end goal in sight and now I can start the process of getting back to full fitness.
“It’s always tough when you have a long term injury and i’ve been fairly lucky across my career to not have too many bad injuries and whilst it will be both mentally and physically tough not being out there with the team, i’ll throw myself into the Director of Football role even more, and continue to get a presence across to the team.
“With our defence decimated, It will give me a good focus to go out and identify those that can help us and that can only be good for the club in the long run, with both ‘Jeffo” and I working back to full fitness as quickly as we can and make that push to the WSL.”
Derby County Ladies Manager John Bennett was naturally devastated and said “It’s horrendous for the club but i’m really feeling for both Emily and Sam as they have been magnificent for me this season.
“These two players, along with Hannah Ward epitomise what it is like to be a Ewe Ram, with all three having been at the club long before I had my first spell here a few years back. They are top quality players that have had the longevity in the game because of their quality both on and off the pitch and it’s going to be tough to replace that experience until they return.
“I’ll need their experience of the dressing room still and I’ll be working closely with our physio to ensure that they return as quickly but safely as possible and I have no doubt that they will be back for the Ewe Rams sooner rather than later.
“We’ll need reinforcements, particularly in the back four and i’ll work closely with Sam to get the quality of player that we need to make a push for the WSL next year as I truly believe if we’d have had the squad I started with this season, there for the majority, we’d be there fighting with Blackburn Rovers for the title. We showed that we matched the Champions at their place and there were times in the home loss to them, where we again matched them, despite the horrendous crisis we have.”
DOUBLE HEADER CONUNDRUM FACING EWE RAMS FANS
Whilst the ‘official’ first team will be taking on newly crowned Premier League champions, Blackburn Rovers at the clubs Don Amott Arena ground, the Development side will be looking to make it a sixth straight success in the County Cup final, when they face Glossop North End at Belper Towns Christchurch Meadow. According to Club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the club have had little option but to give its blessing to the fixture clash.
“ The County Cup is a bit of a strange one really. At the start of the 2015/16 season the Derbyshire FA brought in a ruling limiting the number of Premier League players that could be used in the competition to five per game. To the best of our knowledge they were the only County FA in the country to do that; however we had no issue with it and understand that they were simply looking to create a more level playing field within a county that only consists of one team operating at our level.
During the close season we took a decision not to field any of our first team players in the competition, despite the rules still allowing us to field five and to utilise our Development and Under 18’s side. The reasoning behind that was twofold, in that we wanted to concentrate our first team group on national level competitions, at the same time as affording our younger players an opportunity to express themselves on a stage that the first team have previously represented the club on. They have certainly stepped up to the plate, having managed to get to the final without conceding a goal and we hope that they carry that into the final against a Glossop side that will no doubt be heavily backed by a large and vociferous support.
Officially the FA at national level still count our participation within competition as being a first team one, thereby meaning that it takes precedence over the Premier League as cup competitions do. Ideally our first team would have been at the game cheering our youngster on; however a heavy backlog of fixtures has meant that we have had little alternative but to advise the FA of our intent to continue fielding the Development side in the competition and to therefore offer to play Blackburn in the Premier League at the same time. “
In terms of the Blackburn game, Derby will be looking to exact revenge on an as yet unbeaten Rovers side, that only narrowly defeated them two weeks ago; however as first team manager, John Bennett explains, the task will not be an easy one, not least due to a deeply worrying injury list.
“ We were very unlucky to come away from Blackburn without anything the other week, having lead the game initially only to lose it to a late goal. Unfortunately we lost Sam Griffiths to a very nasty ACL injury that looks like keeping her out for some considerable time. With other long term injuries to Emily Jeffrey, Lorna Abbey and Grace John, I’ve got 600+ club appearances sat on our treatment table, all of whom play at centre half ! Rovers come into the game knowing that they are just three games away from completing the season without a league loss, so we are under no illusions that the task facing us will be a tough one.
Whilst this latest injury has been really tough to take, given that our recent performances had taken us up to third in the league, the group remains upbeat and what we do have are a set of players that are clever enough to adapt to roles that they wouldn’t normally play in if required. Griff is a centre midfielder; however she seamlessly moved into the centre back positions when the other injuries occurred and with the Development side taking part in the County Cup final, others may have to do likewise.
Both games kick off at 2pm with admission to the County Cup £ 3, whilst those choosing to attend the Blackburn game can do so for £ 2 adults, £ 1 Under 16’s, with Derby County season ticket holders admitted free of charge
INJURY CRISIS WOE AND LATE GOAL HEARTACHE FOR EWE RAMS
Derby County Ladies were unable to prevent Blackburn Rovers winning the Premier League (North) title at the weekend, with a late goal securing the hosts a 3-2 win and the point that they needed to secure a play off with the winners of the Southern section for a place in the Women’s Super League.
Whilst Ewe Rams can be proud or providing Rovers with what their manager referred to as their “toughest test of the season”, the performance was overshadowed by yet another long term injury to a key player, as Sam Griffiths was carried off with what appears to be a ruptured ACL.
Blackburn’s dominance of the league this season has been akin to that of Celtic’s in the SPL, having yet to lose a game all season; however having fallen behind to penalty on the half hour mark, Derby firstly equalised through Leanne De Silva just before the break, before taking the lead shortly after the interval through top scorer Mel Johnson.
Johnson’s goal represented the first time that Rovers had fallen behind in game during the entire campaign; however they were level just after the hour mark through Saffron Jordan, before disaster stuck for Derby as the influential Griffiths turned awkwardly before collapsing in obvious pain and distress.
Without a recognised defender on the bench due to injuries, Manager, John Bennett was forced to bring on teenage centre forward, Hannah Jones to fill the void and make up a back four and goalkeeper with an average age of just 18.
Despite performing admirably for the remaining twenty five minutes, Ewe Rams defence was finally breached seven minutes from time with Faye McCoy slotting home after a goalmouth scramble, leading to wild celebration both on and off the pitch. In a fitting tribute to worthy Champions, Derby manager, John Bennett had his side form a guard of honour for the home team as he reflected on both the performance and the clubs injury crisis.
“ In terms of the level of performance, it came as little surprise. By and large the players have shown a pleasing consistency throughout the campaign that bodes very well for next season. We had a sticky patch after Xmas; however the issue then was more around capitalising on our possession and the chances that we created as opposed to playing badly. Blackburn have been immense this season and I’m hard pressed to recall a side having ever dominated this league to that extent. We matched that level today and my opposite number has been very complimentary about us after the game.
Griffs injury is absolutely gutting and the early indications are that it could be a very bad one. She is an intrinsic part of the side and has been absolutely top draw since we had to put her into the back four due to injuries elsewhere. In terms of those, we’ve got Jeffo ( Emily Jeffrey ) awaiting the results of a scan, which again doesn’t look good, whilst we also have Lorna Abbey out to long term back injury. Add Grace John’s lengthy groin strain absence and we are down to one fit centre half !
Any team that loses four players with well over 600 collective appearances for their club is going to suffer; however our job now is twofold as I see it. Short term we need to look at the resources that we have at our disposal, move a few things about and reflect positively on the opportunities that these losses present to others as we look to continue to finish the season strongly. Longer term we need to secure a clear steer on the likely length of these injuries and then look to fill those gaps once we have that information.
Five Star Fylde Performance Perfect Party Pooping Tonic Ahead Of Rovers Clash
Derby County Ladies Manager, John Bennett has hailed the weekends 5-0 drubbing of pre season title favourites, AFC Fylde as the perfect tonic, ahead of what he feels is unquestionably his sides toughest fixture of the season at champions elect, Blackburn Rovers this Sunday.
Ewe Rams were two goals up within the first quarter of an hour against Fylde, thanks to Lisa Giampalma and Mel Johnson; however despite dominating from the first whistle until the last, they had to wait until the 73rd minute before they were able to put the game to bed, thanks to a third from Nicole Dale. Further late goals from Giampalma and Lauren Cresswell ensured that Derby’s dominance was reflected in a score line, that saw Bennett’s side move up to 3rd place in the Premier League (North).
“ The Fylde result and the performance that secured it was very special. We demonstrated quality across every area of the pitch and on the back of the previous positive results against Newcastle and Stoke, we feel vindicated in remaining upbeat following a series of harsh single goal losses leading up to this period. We’ve tweaked a couple of things; however we told the players to keep doing what they were doing and the results would come.
Other than the top two, I can’t remember a season where the division has been so tight, so three wins on the spin was always going to have an impact on our league position. We are naturally delighted to have risen to third; however we know that we have some very tough fixtures between now and the end of the season when the tables standings really matter.
This weekend Derby travel to Blackburn to face the league’s only unbeaten side, who require a solitary point to secure the Premier League (North) title. In Bennett’s opinion there is both incentive and invaluable benchmarking on offer. “ Rovers have been building to this point in their journey for a few years now and receive excellent support from the main club in terms of resources, which helps massively. They have yet to lose in the league this season and require a single point in order to progress to a play off with the winner of the Southern section for a place in the Women’s Super League. We naturally wish them every success in that; however there is a huge incentive for us in delaying its confirmation and subjecting them to their first loss of the season.
We too have been building things diligently both on and off the pitch for a number of years now and feel that as a club we are getting ever closer to not only challenging for Super League status but maintaining it. Due to this fixture being cancelled earlier in the season, we have still to play Blackburn home and away. The two games will provide us with invaluable benchmarking experience against the stand out team in the Northern Section. “
AMAZING COMEBACK REPRESENTS DEFINING MOMENT FOR BENNETT
Manager, John Bennett feels that Derby County Ladies stunning and richly deserved 4-3 victory over Stoke City at the weekend, having been 0-3 down at half time, represents a ‘defining moment’ under his second period of tenure at the club.
Despite both sides enjoying even possession during the first period, a combination of clinical finishing and defensive lapses saw his side go in at the break seemingly down and out; however according to Bennett whilst he made some key tactical changes, it is the players who deserve credit for the complete turnaround in fortunes against one of the Premier League’s more resolute sides.
“ On the balance of play 0-3 was a harsh reflection of the first half; however Stoke were making their share of the possession count and we weren’t. To expect that scenario to turn full circle of its own accord wasn’t really an option in my view, so we changed both formation and personnel with a view to securing an early goal and hopefully injecting a bit of panic into the opposition.
Mel Johnson has put one away within a minute of the re-start, which subsequently set the tone for forty five minutes of front foot, pedal to the floor football in which we spread the play with purpose and consistently exploited the pockets of space that were created as a result of that. “
Further goals from Lisa Giampalma, Johnson again and a late winner from Nicole Ledgester on what was her 150th appearance for the club sealed an unlikely win that sees Bennett’s side move up to 6th and to within a point of 3rd place; however the fact that the win came against Stoke means more.
“ Regardless of whether its men’s football or women’s football, over time teams from parks to Premier League standard forge themselves reputations that can usually be summarised in a few words. Within the women’s game the words ‘ resilient, tough and togetherness ‘ will normally crop up in any conversation concerning Stoke City and they are very much paid as a compliment. To come from three down and win against any team is some feat; however to do it against a side like Stoke who possess those qualities in abundance should not be lost on my players.
Derby have historically been viewed by others as a skilful, footballing side, but one where heads can sometimes drop if things are not going well. This is something that we have talked about a lot this season in terms of looking to address it and for me the nature of this win and the side that it was achieved against, can act as a ‘ defining moment ‘ for the squad in terms of resilience.
Naturally we want to be going a goal or two up in games , as opposed to a goal or two down; however my players showed unequivocally at the weekend that if they are faced with that scenario again they have the necessary tools and mindset to rectify things. Any team that can come from three down against Stoke and win, has it in their locker to do that against just about any side.
This weekend Ewe Rams entertain pre season title favourites, AFC Fylde at the Don Amott Arena, with Bennett looking to secure a third successive win following the Stoke victory and the previous week’s 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United.
“Something of a revolution has occurred at AFC Fylde in recent times, which has seen the clubs ambitious owner build a new ground, whilst openly declaring his intent for the men’s team to become a football league club and the Women’s team secure promotion to the Super League. As part of that our opponents were able to make a number of marquee signings in the summer that saw them heavily backed along with Blackburn as pre season title favourites. Both sides started the season strongly; however whilst Rovers have to all intents and purposes wrapped the league up already, Fylde have tailed off in recent months.
We secured an excellent 0-0 draw up there just before Xmas in which we found them to be arguably the best organised side that we have encountered this season. We are therefore expecting a tough game on Sunday, but one that if we bring our second half performance from the Stoke game to, we have every chance of getting a result from.”
Kick Off is at 2pm with admission to Derby County season ticket holders free, whilst general admission is just £ 2 adults and £ 1 for Under 16’s.
ICONIC MOMENT IN DCFC HISTORY CAN ACT AS CATALYST
Derby County Ladies Manager, John Bennett feels that the weekends 2-0 victory over Newcastle United can provide the perfect springboard for the remainder of the season.
Due to a waterlogged pitch, Ewe Rams game with the Magpies required switching from the Don Amott Arena and with the visitors agreeing to the fixture being played on an artificial pitch, the game was moved to the Racecourse’s Steve Bloomer Pitch. This meant that an official Derby County side played a fixture on the site of the clubs former Racecourse Ground for the first time in 122 years, the last time having been a 0-0 draw with Blackburn Rovers in April 1895!
As the song suggests Bloomer was clearly watching, with goals from teenager Hannah Jones and captain, Mel Johnson either side of half time securing a deserved win. The victory lifts Ewe Rams back up to 7th in the Premier League on the back of recent harsh single goal defeats to Leicester City, Stoke City and Middlesbrough. According to Bennett the result and manner of the victory will hopefully stand his side in good stead for the remainder of the season.
“ Some of our recent results have been very difficult to stomach, given the percentage of possession that we have enjoyed and chances that we have created; however whilst we haven’t been getting the rewards for our endeavours the spirit within the camp has remained high due to the fact that results aside, we know we’ve been playing well. Jonesy has popped up with another goal for us since her call up from the Development side, whilst at the other end 16 year old Charlotte Clarke has kept a clean sheet following her own recent call up.
In addition to that I was delighted that Mel Johnson has got herself back on the score sheet, given that this has probably been her most testing period as a player. Mel’s consistency over the past few seasons has seen her build a thoroughly deserved reputation as one of the most clinical finishers in the Premier League; however this season chances that would normally have gone in, have either gone narrowly wide or been saved. These things happen to all the best players at one stage or another in their careers and can understandably knock a players confidence; however my belief in Mel and the qualities that she brings to the side have never wavered.
We’ve enjoyed a couple of half decent cup runs this season; however our remaining eight fixtures are all in the league. As such we don’t have any distractions to contend with and with only four points separating us from third place i’m hopeful that we can kick on now and put together a decent run to the end of the season that will see us meet our pre season objectives.”
This Sunday, Ewe Rams entertain fifth placed Stoke City at the Don Amott Arena. Kickoff is at 2pm with free admission to all Derby County season ticket holders, whilst general admission is just £ 2 adults and £ 1 for U16’s.
FEELINGS OF DEJA VU, AS EWE RAMS SUFFER LAST GASP HEARTACHE AT FOXES
According to Derby County Ladies manager, John Bennett, whilst last weekend’s harsh last gasp 2-1 defeat at local rivals Leicester was a bitter pill to swallow, having dominating both possession and chances, his side need to retain the belief that saw them challenging at the top of the Women’s Premier League only a few months ago.
“ In the previous league game, we came away from Stoke City scratching our heads in disbelief that we had not only failed to win the game, but had somehow contrived to lose it 2-1. A week on from that and the feelings of déjà vu were surreal. We could quite easily have gone in at half time four or five goals to the good; however we’ve headed into injury time hugely frustrated at being on level terms, only to let one in 30 seconds from time and come away empty handed again! “
The two losses came directly on the back of further solitary goal defeats at Middlesbrough in the league and at home to Nottingham Forest in the FA cup, both of which saw Ewe Rams dominate possession. Whilst Bennett has every right to feel that Lady Luck has gone from playing hide and seek to being something of a cruel mistress, he retains belief that his side are equipped to turn things around.
“We still maintain that the squad that we have assembled this season is the strongest that the club has ever had. There is quality throughout a team consisting of just the right blend of experience, youth and trophy winners. You can see that in our performances; however whilst we are dominating games and creating chances, if you don’t transform a percentage of the latter into goals, you lose games. “
Whilst the Leicester result disappointed Bennett, there were further positives in relation to the clubs strategy to successfully integrate players from its of academy into the first team this season.
“ Sam Griffiths came in as Director Of Football last summer to link up with our hugely successful Academy Director, Dave Cholerton. One of the first things that she looked to do was to introduce a closer synergy with the clubs Development side and academy and we are already seeing the early benefits of that work.
We played a friendly at Loughborough Foxes last weekend, who sit top of the league below is. In that game we gave a debut to 16 year old keeper Charlotte Clarke after some excellent performances for the clubs Development side this season. She did well and we’ve stuck with her at Leicester. In addition to that fellow teenager Hannah Jones has come on and scored her first Premier League goal, whilst 16 year old Ellie May has secured further first team action having started the season in the club’s Under 18’s.
In times of difficulty it’s often best to take a step back. From that perspective we’ve built a strong squad, we’ve integrated a number of teenage players into it and we are more often than not dominating games. I’m delighted with that, the only thing I’m disappointed in is that we are not converting the chances that we are creating into goals and points; however with the quality that we have within the group I remain confident that we will turn that round.”
This Sunday the side are at home to strugglers Newcastle United, although the game may need to be switched from the clubs Don Amott Arena home ground to a local 3G facility, should wet weather conditions persist. Supporters are asked to check the clubs website on the day.
BOX TICKED FOR BENNETT, AS FOCUS TURNS TO LEAGUE CAMPAIGN
Derby County Ladies manager, John Bennett has called upon his side to put the disappointment of last weekends FA Cup exit to rivals Nottingham Forest behind them, and to concentrate on the clubs final and most important objective for the season.
Last Sunday a bumper 800 strong crowd turned out in force at the Don Amott Arena, hopeful of victory and a place in the 4th Round hat alongside the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City; however despite enjoying nearly 70% of the games possession, a breakaway first half goal saw the visitors progress at Derby’s expense. According to Bennett, there is still everything to play for as the club now focuses its full attention on the Premier League campaign, starting with Stoke City this Sunday
” At the start of the season we sat down and targeted a run in one of the cups and a top four league finish. The Forest result was a huge disappointment for all concerned; however we had to navigate our way past Huddersfield and Sheffield United prior to the tie and we also made it to the third round of the league cup. So in terms of a cup run, there’s a tick in the box.
We are currently seventh in the league; however we’ve games in hand and other than Blackburn nobody has been pulling up any trees. We’ve still got 60 % of our league programme still to play due to postponements and cup commitments, so we need to put any feelings of sorrow to bed and concentrate fully on making these catch up games count and getting ourselves back up the table. If we do that there is no reason at all why a top four place can’t be secured and come the end of the season we can sit there and say ‘ job done ‘ on both fronts and build from there. Stoke is never an easy game; however we went there earlier in the season in the league cup and came away with a hard earned win, so we’ve every reason to be confident of repeating the feat.
According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the Forest game also ticked a box, if the result didn’t. ” Four seasons ago, we’d have been happy with the proverbial crowd of one man, providing he’d turned up with both of his dogs! ; however once again the Derby County family as I like to call them, have done the club proud. You could count the number of Forest fans that were present on the fingers of two hands, yet the game was still the highest attended of the round. To put some context on that, there were as many fans here as there were for the men’s teams Check trade Trophy game with Mansfield Town earlier this season at Pride Park and Mansfield brought over 300 down with them. As a club we take great pride in that.
EWE RAMS GEARING UP FOR BIGGEST GAME IN CLUBS HISTORY
Derby County Ladies have pulled out all the stops in order to turn their Don Amott Arena home ground into a fortress for this Sundays FA Cup 3rd Round tie against rivals Nottingham Forest. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, no stone has been left unturned in the build up to what is seen as the biggest game in the clubs 27 year history.
“ As a club we have a proud recent history of delivering high profile marquee games, played out in front of large crowds. In the past three seasons we have seen crowds in excess of 600 attend friendly fixtures, that we have gone out and secured ourselves with Arsenal (twice), Liverpool and Everton. In addition to that similar numbers witnessed our home league game with Forest last season and the ground was rocking a few weeks back when we entertained Sheffield United in the last round of the cup. “
Early indications are that attendance, to a game that has captured interest at national level, will surpass all previous records and Gibb is keen for those present to play a key role in helping the club progress to the 4th Round. “ Since the draw was made three weeks ago there has been a real buzz about the town, whilst nationally people such as the BBC’s Jacqui Oatley have taken time to talk about it on social media. We’ll have BBC Radio Derby down doing interviews before and after the game, members of the Derby Seranadors on hand get the crowd going, whilst every fan will be issued with a Rams flag just as they are for the men’s games. The aim is for our players to walk out and grow a foot taller, whilst we want Forest’s players to be under no illusion as to who the home team is. “
Whilst the club hope to put on a good show for the fans, progression to the next round has to be the main objective according to Gibb. “The winner of Sunday’s game will pick up a four figure cheque, as well as going into the hat with the big guns of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. That may not seem like much to the average supporter of men’s football, however for a club such as ours its massive “
Kick Off is at 2pm with admission to the game £ 3 for adults, £ 2 for Under 16’s and free of charge to all supporters presenting a Derby County FC season ticket card
BENNETT CALLS FOR LEAGUE FOCUS, PRIOR TO FOREST FA CUP TIE
Derby County Ladies head into the weekends home fixture with Stoke City concerned at a mounting fixture list, that has not helped by postponements on each of the last two weekends.
Ewe Rams were due to travel to reigning champions, West Brom last weekend; however as with the previous week’s game away game at Stoke, it fell victim to a frozen pitch. According to Manager, John Bennett, the inclement weather allied to the clubs progress in the FA Cup will almost certainly see some fixtures moved to midweek. “ If you look at the men’s arm of the club, they have played just under 60% of their league fixtures, which is where you expect to be going into February, however we are at the 45% stage in terms of our league campaign. As a result we find ourselves in a somewhat bizarre position in that we are two points off second bottom, yet find ourselves just six points behind third placed Bradford City, with five games in hand !”
Bennett remains hopeful that the game with The Potters will not only go ahead, but will also see the club follow up on a three game unbeaten run. “ It appears that the recent cold spell will be coming to an end, or at least taking some time out, so we are confident of blowing some unwelcome cobwebs away. Games with Stoke have historically been hard fought, tight affairs, with a prime example being the league cup tie at their place back in October. We came away with a narrow 2-1 win, but only after extra time. “
Much of the focus around the club has been next weekend’s FA Cup game with Nottingham Forest, which club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb has labelled as “ arguably the biggest game in the clubs history “; however whilst Bennett says that it has been hard to get away from interest in the tie, his players have been reminded to put thoughts of that to one side. “ The media have been all over the Forest game since the draw was made and everyone that you talk to seems to be aware of it; however we set ourselves targets in terms of our league position and points tally at the start of the season and as things sit, there is no reason at all why we can’t realise those. Last time out in the league we came away from Fylde with a hard earned goalless draw, and if we can put points on the board on Sunday, then we can turn our thoughts to Forest on the back of what will be a four game unbeaten run.”
Kick Off at the Don Amott Arena is at 2pm, with Derby County season ticket holders admitted free of charge.
VICTORY AT CHESTERFIELD SEES EWE RAMS DEVELOPMENT
SQUAD PROGRESS TO COUNTY CUP SEMI FINAL
Derby County Ladies FC moved a step closer to securing a sixth successive County Cup win, following victory away to Chesterfield on Sunday.
On the back of rules changes being made by the Derbyshire FA back in 2015, the club has once again entered it’s Development side, as opposed to first team into the competition, despite being allowed to field up to four first team players.
Despite testing conditions that had seen a number of fixtures cancelled across the region, Petter Asser’s side dominated the game from start to finish, with goals shared amongst Molly Matthews, Jade Eaglefield and Meg Pitman, securing a well deserved 5-0 victory.
Following the game Asser was full of praise for both his own side as well as The Spirerites “ We’ve dominated the game throughout, playing some excellent football on a testing and difficult surface. To have adapted to the conditions and delivered a performance to that standard, having not played a competitive game since before Christmas is hugely pleasing for me as a coach. Credit should also be given to Chesterfield, for both their attitude and application, as well as for the way in which they defended intelligently throughout a testing 90 minutes. Their management team were rightly very proud of them afterwards.”
Whilst his side are one step away from representing the club in a second successive final, Asser has called for his players to focus their attention on league matters, as well as pushing for places within the first team squad. “ Both the players and myself are excited to have reached the last four, however the league campaign takes priority for now. In terms of that, we have only lost once this season and are in a four way tussle for the league title ; however the key for me is in the title of the squad.
We are the clubs Development side and therefore our prime objective and purpose, is to look to develop as many of our number into first team squad players. It’s a bit of a weird one in that the better we are at that, the weaker we become as a team, when players either get called up or put forward for consideration.
This season a number of my group have featured at first team level, so when you balance that up against our results, i’m really pleased with how things have gone this season.
This weekend the clubs first team are in Premier League action when they travel to reigning champions, West Bromwich Albion. Whilst the task appears a daunting one, Manager John Bennett remains confident.
“ Albion started this campaign as poorly as they finished the last one well. Last time round they had a ruthlessness in grinding out results, whilst this time round they couldn’t buy a win to start with. Unfortunately that all changed when they came to us back in October and their 2-0 victory basically kick started their season. Along with Blackburn and Middlesbrough they were the form team of the last two months of 2016; however we are unbeaten in three and have a number of previously injured players back in the squad with minutes under their belt, so it all points to an intriguing fixture.”
Kick off at Albion’s Halesowen Town ground is at 2pm.
EXTRA TIME ECSTACY LEADS TO FA CUP SHOWDOWN WITH FOREST
A crowd of just over 400 saw Derby County Ladies eventually dispatch gallant lower league outfit, Sheffield United from the FA Cup at the Don Amott Arena on Sunday, to set up a mouth watering 3rd Round tie with neighbours, Nottingham Forest next month.
The Blades came into the game on the back of a stunning run of results that sees them seemingly destined to leave the regional feeder leagues and join the Women’s Premier League pyramid next season, Unsurprisingly they showed little in the way of fear or in trepidation against a Derby side that operate two levels above them, taking a shock lead within less than a minute after a cross turned shot deceived Ewe Rams keeper, Sarah Morgan on what was her 100th appearance for the club.
The visitors had further opportunities to extend their lead, before Derby began to stamp their authority on the game ; however they were unable to find any form of clinical edge in front of goal and went into the interval potentially facing the shock result of the round.
Unsurprisingly Manager, John Bennett made two early changes at the break bringing on Vanessa Nicholson and Leanne De Silva for Megan Clarkson and Nikki Ledgester respectively, and was quickly rewarded with an equaliser on 52 minutes, when Molly Johnson cut in from the left to fire home from 30 yards, for her first goal for the club since signing in the summer.
Against the run of play Sheffield once again took the lead on 57 minutes following a poorly managed routine clearance, however Ewe Rams were level within four minutes as recent England U17 call up striker, Ellie May hooked home from close range in front of watching England manager, John Griffiths.
Despite Derby enjoying over 70% possession during the second half period, they were unable to capitalise and a spirited United side were worthy of taking the tie to extra time.
Bennett made his final substitution on 95 minutes when he brought on winger Camilla Newton for skipper Mel Johnson. This proved to be an inspired and ultimately defining call as Newton fired home with her first touch of the game within a minute of joining the action. Derby saw a number of further chances go begging, whilst United late a late siege to the home sides goal with their goalkeeper spending the final three minutes of the tie camped deep in Rams territory.
After the game, Bennett was in philosophical mood, paying tribute to the Yorkshire side. “ The performance today was nowhere near our best, which given the support that we’ve received from the stands was disappointing. Clearly this wasn’t helped by a near three week break between fixtures, however ultimately we got a difficult job done and we progress to the next round. In terms of the Sheffield players, they have proved to be an absolute credit to both themselves and their club. They came with a game plan, dropping very deep and creating deep blockage on the edge of their box, breaking quickly when the opportunity arose. We genuinely wish them well for the remainder of the season in their quest for promotion.
The 3rd Round draw was made the following day with the pairing of Derby and fierce local rivals Nottingham Forest seen as the tie of the round. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, early indicators point to a land mark day in the clubs history for the game which takes place on Sunday 5th February. “ The buzz around the club at the moment is fantastic, with both the nature of the victory over Sheffield United and the home draw with Forest giving everyone a lift. The early indications point towards a potential crowd of a 1,000 for the tie and we will be pulling out all of the stops to realise that. Hopefully home advantage and a partisan crowd will play a part in tipping the scales in our favour in a game between two evenly matched sides.
Both teams will be aware that whoever wins, will be joining the big guns of Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in the hat for the next round; however we have played three marquee friendlies against those sides in recent years as well as one with Everton, so the majority of our players are used to the big games and big crowds that come with those. Whatever happens, it will mark another exciting chapter in our history and it’s also wonderfully motivating for the players within our academy sides. Ultimately they are the future of the club and it’s important that they witness and revel in the atmosphere of these games and leave with a hunger to want to progress as players and be a part of them.
BUMPER CROWD EXPECTED FOR FA CUP TIE WITH BLADES
Following two excellent results on the road prior to the Christmas break, Derby County Ladies open 2017 looking to progress in the FA Cup at the expense of Sheffield United this Sunday, with early indications pointing to a bumper crowd turning up at the Don Amott Arena. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the game is one that everyone at the club has been looking forward to since the draw was made.
” When we found that we’d been drawn as the away team in the only all Premier League first round tie, I think it’s fair to say that we were all a bit disappointed. Having delivered a massive performance to return from Huddersfield with the win, the last thing we wanted or deserved was more of the same; however thankfully the FA Cup gods have shone on us to set up an absolute cracker. The Blades operate two tiers beneath us at regional level, however they have only lost once all season and are absolutely flying. Add to that the fact that this is probably the biggest game in their history and that they’ll be urged on by a healthy travelling contingent and you have all the requisite ingredients for a good old fashioned cup tie.
Following an unbeaten start to the season that saw the club briefly top the Premier League, Gibb is hopeful that the injury list that has contributed to Ewe Rams dropping to 6th is behind them. ” I heard that Steve McClaren asked OB ( BBC Radio Derby’s Owen Bradley ) after the Norwich game if he still had his boots, given the curse that the men’s side have had at left back; however I think our Manager, John Bennett was begging the same question of the two tea ladies, programme seller and mascot a few weeks back when we had six or seven key players missing !
Thankfully we have had a few returning from the treatment room of late, which gave everyone a lift and certainly contributed to the win at Huddersfield and draw up at AFC Fylde. We’ve a busy month ahead with crunch league games against Stoke City and West Brom who are both in and around us; however there is nothing like a cup run to get the juices of a football club and its supporters flowing, so our focus for now is squarely on ensuring that the banana skin that awaits us on Sunday is well and truly avoided.
Kick off for the game is at 1pm with general admission just £ 2, whilst season ticket holders of Derby County will be admitted free on production of their season ticket card.
BENNETT DELIGHTED WITH BATTLING DRAW AT AFC FYLDE
Following a nightmare six weeks in terms of injuries, Derby County Ladies go into the Christmas break buoyed on two fronts, with players returning to fitness and a second successive shut out on the road, following a gritty 0-0 draw away to pre season Premier League title favourites AFC Fylde at the weekend.
Manager, John Bennett had spoken in the lead up to the game, of his players needing to build on the previous weeks FA Cup victory at Huddersfield and they started positively with Nicole Dale inches away from converting a Natalie Reay cross inside the first two minutes. The home side slowly began to stamp their authority on the game and were subsequently denied on a number of occasions prior to the break through a combination of some excellent defending and Rams keeper, Sarah Morgan.
The second period followed a similar pattern to the first, with the Coasters dominating large periods of play, however a failure to convert possession into end product allied to excellent game management by Derby, saw Ewe Rams return from the North West with a hard earned point. According to Bennett his squad can take huge comfort from the past two performances and can enter the new year with renewed confidence, after what has been a particularly testing period.
“ Following an excellent pre and early season campaign, we were hit very hard with injuries in October and results suffered a bit as a result. We knew that some of those players would start to return to fitness, however if you could hand pick your final two fixtures of the year when your down to the bare bones, an FA Cup tie away to a fellow Premier League side, followed by a trip to the pre season title favourites in the league would be unlikely to feature on your list.
To subsequently progress in the cup and then secure a point in the league was pleasing enough, however to do both without conceding a goal has been an added bonus. We’ve also managed to get Lisa Giampalma back in the starting line up and hopefully by the time we entertain Sheffield United in the FA Cup on 8th January we will have a couple more either back or a step closer to full fitness. “
REAY OF FA CUP SUNSHINE, AS EWE RAMS SEE OFF TERRIERS
A lone Natalie Reay strike was enough for see Derby County progress in the FA Cup at the expense of Huddersfield Town.
In the build up to the game, manager, John Bennett had talked of a need to secure both a positive result and performance, as opposed to just the latter, following the previous weeks narrow and underserved Premier League loss to leaders, Middlesbrough.
The draw had not been kind to either side, given that it represented the only all Premier League tie of the round, however Bennett’s side started brightly and controlled most of the early stages before being rewarded midway through the first half when Natalie Reay capitalised on an excellent switch in play from Ellie May to slot past the home keeper.
Bennett made a couple of tactical tweaks to the sides set up at the interval and shortly afterwards introduced Lisa Giampalma, following a two month absence through injury. The experienced midfielders impact was immediate and lead to Ewe Rams creating a number of chances to seal the game that went begging.
The games main talking point came in the dying minutes when Huddersfield were convinced that a rare shot on target had crossed the line, however the well positioned officials deemed that it had not and Derby progress to a second round home tie with Northern Counties league side, Sheffield United.
According to Bennett, whilst Huddersfield seemed aggrieved at the decision not to award them a late equalising goal, they could have had few complaints about the result . “ There seemed to be a lot of people claiming to have had a great view of the ball and its proximity to the goal line, however the person that was best placed was the assistant referee. Sometimes these decisions can be hard to take, especially in the heat of the moment. Nobody knows that better than us, given that we had one in identical circumstances ( last minute potential equaliser ) against Middlesbrough the week before, however we accepted that the officials got it right then, and we trust that they did on this occasion. To be fair, Town’s chairman sent a text to our CEO, Duncan Gibb after the game wishing us all the best for next round, which was a nice touch.
When you look at the wider picture, I feel that we were the better side tactically and technically on the day and teams game management in securing our passage into the next round has been superb. I’m pleased for our fans, but on this occasion i’m even more pleased for the group. We dominated last week’s game against Middlesbrough and came away empty handed, so secure both the performance and the result this week was fitting “
BENNETT CALLS FOR MORE OF THE SAME FOR FYLDE TRIP
This weekend Derby County Ladies resume their Premier League campaign with a trip to pre season title favourites AFC Fylde, who up until the summer were known as Preston North End.
The Lancashire coast club made the national press earlier in the year when the lure of a new stadium and significant financial backing saw The Lilywhites controversially move from Preston to the outskirts Blackpool in a move that saw them change their name; However following a strong start to the season both manager Luke Swindlehurst and some of their players have left the club, whilst the fixture this weekend has been moved from the new stadium to AFC Fylde’s former Preston based ground.
According to Bennett, his focus is firmly on Derby as opposed to any issues that their opponents have experienced.“ Pre-season everyone was talking about AFC Fylde and Blackburn Rovers as title favourites. Both clubs have featured at the top end of the table in recent seasons, albeit with Fylde operating under the banner of Preston, and both enjoy the significant backing of their main clubs. Things have obviously happened at Fylde over the past couple of months and you can see that in their more recent results.
My focus and the focus of my players needs to be firmly fixed on matters at Derby and not 100 miles away, and i’ll simply be asking for more of the same after two excellent performances. We are still scratching our heads now, in terms of how we lost to Middlesbrough in the league two weeks ago, and we followed that up by delivering not only the performance but the result as well at Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup last week. Fylde are still a side to be reckoned with and have some excellent players, however if my group maintain the levels that they have performed to recently, then i’m confident that we can secure a positive result.
IRONY AS EWE RAMS DRAW BLADES IN FA CUP
According to Manager, John Bennett there is a certain irony to the news that Ewe Rams have drawn Sheffield United in the FA Cup 2nd Round following last weekend’s first round victory at Huddersfield Town.
“ Our game with Huddersfield was the only all Premier League tie of the round, so there was always a chance that we would be drawn against a lower league side in the next round and that has proved to be the case. Sheffield United operate two levels below us within the Northern Regional feeder set up, however they played their first round tie at Bramall Lane in front of a decent crowd.
The general consensus amongst the players at training on Tuesday night was that they were pleased with the draw, but wished in some ways that The Blades number had come out of the bag before ours did ! For our part as a club, we continue to work closely with the main club with a view to hosting a home game at Pride Park and we’d be very confident of attracting big numbers to it, should that come to fruition “
In terms of the tie, Bennett feels that it has all the hallmarks of being a cracker. “ There’s some great stuff going on at Sheffield at the moment and the club are building something very special there. If you look at their league form they have enjoyed an excellent season, however the FA Cup game with us will represent the highlight of it to date. They would have taken good support with them regardless of who they were drawn against, however a 40 mile trip down the M1 will no doubt boost those numbers. Everything points to a good old fashioned cup tie. “
AY LATEST EWE RAM TO BE CALLED UP TO ENGLAND SET UP
In the summer the club made a number of changes to its academy team structure, as well as bringing in UEFA A Licence coach, Sam Griffiths as Director of Football, in a move aimed at building on an impressive youth development track record that also saw left back Megan Tinsley called up to national level the season before. According to Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, May’s call up is an early indicator that things are moving in the right direction.
“ A strong academy that has the dynamic and expertise to deliver the players of the future, has to be the foundation of any football club. It’s something that we as a club have been ‘ good ‘ at for a number of years, however our aim going forwards is to be ‘ excellent ‘. To fully realise that ambition, we need to improve on the quality of those that come through, and for the age of these players to decrease. Ellie is 16 years of age and has not looked out of place when brought into the first team group, so that represents a good start.
Our intent longer term has to be to create an environment where this becomes regular occurrence and these players remain at the club, or if they do move on, then we benefit. You can see this happening with the men’s arm of the club, where in more recent years only Will Hughes has really come to the fore from the academy. Now all of a sudden Jonathon Mitchell is the clubs number two and being called up to the England set up, whilst Jamie Hanson and Max Lowe have been getting some serious game time within the first team group.
That both the male and female arms of Derby County are not only committed to organic growth, but seeing tangible results for their endeavours can only be good for the overall club as a brand. “
BENNETT PLEASED, DESPITE LAST GASP HEARTBREAK
Few managers can be happy when they watch their side miss a penalty with a last kick of the game, that would have seen them secure a draw with the league leaders; However Derby County Ladies, John Bennett is one of them, despite his side losing 3-2 to Middlesbrough at the Don Amott Arena at the weekend.
The visitors have taken the Premier League by storm this season, on the back of only being promoted to it in the summer, and took the lead on 24 minutes when Bianca Owens coolly slotted past Sarah Morgan. However their lead didn’t last long when Nicole Dale equalised after good link up play with Natalie Reay.
Ewe Rams dominated large passages of the second half, however they somehow entered the last fifteen minutes of the game 3-1 down, after goals against the run of play from Emily Scarr and Ellie Dobson appeared to have put the game beyond doubt. However a third goal of the season for 16 year old Ellie May, who had earlier been called up to the forthcoming England U17 training camp, set the game up for a pulsating finish that didn’t disappoint,
On 86 minutes May thought she had scored the equaliser only for the referee to rule that her effort had not crossed the line, before Derby were awarded a penalty deep into injury time. Unfortunately whilst Sam Griffiths well struck spot kick beat the keeper, it didn’t evade the cross bar and Middlesbrough headed north with three somewhat fortuitous points.
According to Bennett, whilst the result wasn’t ideal, the performance was encouraging. “ Our changing room has resembled something akin to Emergency Ward 10 over the past six weeks and it’s fair to say that’s manifested itself in our recent run of results. Some of those players are starting to come back to something like fitness, however a game with the league leaders is still probably not what we would have chosen at this point in time. That said, we have to all intents and purposes been the better side and a draw would have probably been quite harsh, so to lose the game and in the manner that we did is hard to take.
Sometimes though, you have to step back and look at the wider picture. In my view, we’ve bossed large chunks of the game, played some excellent football and never once let our heads drop. Put that together and you can see why i’m not only proud of the players but very much looking forward to this weekend’s FA cup game at Huddersfield Town.”
ENGLAND LEGEND, HOPE POWELL PIPS EWE RAMS
CHOLERTON AT WEMBLEY FA AWARDS
Derby County Ladies, Academy Director, Dave Cholerton has been named Runner Up for a second successive year in the ‘ Outstanding Contribution To Women’s Football ‘ category at the annual FA Women’s Awards at Wembley Stadium.
Whilst disappointed not to have landed what is regarded as one of the main awards of the night, Cholerton who has been involved with Ewe Rams for the past 14 years felt that former England Manager, Hope Powell was the right choice to walk away with it.
“ What can you say about Hope that hasn’t already been written. The first women in the world to secure a UEFA Pro Licence, 35 goals in 66 appearances as a player for her country, immediately followed with an incredible 15 year unbroken tenure as the England manager. When you chuck in managing GB at the London Olympics, an OBE and a CBE for services to football, then the moniker of Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Football is one that sits easily and well.
To be considered and put alongside someone of that ilk was honour enough for me, and i’m just delighted that Derby County have once again been recognised at national level for their development and standing within the women’s game “
EWE RAMS NAMED ‘ PREMIER LEAGUE CLUB OF THE YEAR ‘
RUNNERS UP TO BRIGHTON AT ANNUAL FA AWARDS
Derby County Ladies FC have been named as Runner Up in the ‘ Premier League Club Of The Year ‘ award category behind Brighton , having won it the previous year and been named as Runner up in 2014. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the club were happy enough with the outcome.
“ With the rewards on offer to clubs within the Women’s Super League, standards both on and off the pitch within the Premier League are improving massively year on year, as clubs within it look to secure a place at the top table. Derby as a club have in many ways changed immeasurably over the past three years and the FA have clearly recognised that, through last year’s award and runners slots either side of that.
We are consistently advised by people within both the FA and wider game, that no club outside of the WSL does more to positively promote the brand of their main club within the community, however it takes more than that to win this award. The backing and recognition that Brighton receive from the their main club along with other key partners within the city is on another level, which makes things so much easier.
That is something that we are working on, however it was no surprise that Brighton were promoted to the WSL in May and subsequently walked away with this award last week”
“ A CHANCE TO REWARD OUR MAGNICENT FANS “
AS BENNETT PREPARES FOR NEWCASTLE VISIT
The annual FA Awards at Wembley beckon this weekend, however on the field the club have an equally important diary date this Sunday, when they entertain lowly Newcastle United in the Premier League on the back of last week’s frustrating postponement at Stoke City. According to Manager, John Bennett his side will be taking little notice of The Magpies league position.
“ It’s fair to say that Newcastle have not enjoyed the best of times in recent seasons and a couple of years ago only a change in the league structure saw them avoid relegation from the top flight. They have struggled again this time round, however as I have said since pre-season, any side in this league is capable of beating the other, as has since proved to be the case.
We’ve lost a number of key players to injuries of late and it’s fair to say that the impact of those contributed to both our late loss at Middlesbrough two weeks ago and our hugely disappointing league cup defeat at Chester Le Street last week. Newcastle will look at those results and fancy getting something from the game, whilst for our part we have an opportunity to put those results to bed in front of our own fans, who have been nothing short of magnificent all season. ”
Kick off at the Don Amott LG Arena, Mickleover is at 2pm with free admission to all Derby County FC season ticket holders. General admission £ 2 adults £ 1 Under 16’s
WEMBLEY BECKONS, AS EWE RAMS ACCLAIMED FOR 3RD SUCCESSIVE YEAR
This weekend representative from Derby County Ladies will be attending the annual FA Women’s Awards at Wembley Stadium, having been shortlisted for two awards in which they have enjoyed recent success. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the club is delighted at this latest recognition from the FA and is aware of the positive impact that it has on the wider Derby County brand.
“ Last year the club walked away from the awards named as the best run club outside of the Women’s Super League, whilst the year prior to that our club secretary, Sheila Rollinson was named winner of the ‘ Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Football ‘ award. We have again been shortlisted in both categories, as we have been in each of the last three years. Given that there are 24 teams within the Premier League set up, to make the final three in both award categories for three years running is an outstanding achievement and one of which we are understandably proud.
Closer to home the main club will be delighted that the Derby County name and brand are being consistently recognised in a positive light at national level, not only for our achievements, but the way in which we go about delivering them. In the modern day and age a football club is as much a brand as it is football club, and therefore anything that we do directly impacts on the overall brand.
GROWING INJURY LIST CAUSE FOR CONCERN, AS EWE RAMS BOW OUT OF LEAGUE CUP
Long term injuries to key players are costing Derby County Ladies dear, according to Manager John Bennett, as his side were eliminated from the league cup at the last sixteen stage by league one, Chester Le Street at the weekend.
Going into the game Bennett had spoken of his hopeful expectations of a place in the quarter finals after a seemingly favourable draw paired them with the North East side; However despite skipper Mel Johnson extending her impressive scoring run to a fourth successive game, his side exited the competition on the back of a 2-1 defeat.
Derby’s cause was not helped by the confirmation of six injuries prior to kick off, and things went from bad to worse with the home side taking the lead within the first ten seconds courtesy of a free header from close range.
The game then settled into a familiar pattern, with the visitors enjoying plenty of possession which was eventually rewarded on 30 minutes, when Johnson produced a trademark finish on the back of a flowing move.
Unfortunately having got themselves back into the tie, Derby once again gifted the visitors a goal which was bundled home from close range shortly prior to the interval.
The second period saw Derby retake the initiative, however despite dominating possession, three guilt edged chances went begging and a resilient Chester Le Street saw the game out to record one of the best results in their history.
Despite his disappointment at the result, Bennett is keen that his squad draws on the positives that they have delivered this season, whilst he looks to address a concerning injury list. “ At Premier League level and in the latter stages of cup competitions, games tend to hinge on the finest of margins. If you make poor choices in key areas, there’s a good chance that you will get punished. Likewise if you work yourself into good positions and fail to capitalise, then there is a equally good chance that you’re going to pay for that. Unfortunately a combination of both of those scenarios has seen a lower league side progress at our expense to the quarter final of a cup competition in which we were keen to do well in.
That said any team, even Barcelona are going to feel the effect of having half a team missing, although on the flip side we have been able to integrate further youngsters from our Development and Academy sides into the first team group, which can only be good in terms of the longer term picture.
There is no escaping the fact that regardless of the injuries it was a poor result, however as we go into this weekend’s game at Stoke, we’ll be reminding the players that it’s only a few weeks ago that they came away from the same venue with a deserved victory in the cup, despite a number of players being missing with injury from that one also.
Clearly we need to look at what we do on that front, given that a number of the injuries are long term, however there is certainly no need to panic. We’ve managed to implement an entirely new playing philosophy this season that has drawn plaudits, not just from our supporters, but those of other clubs as well. In addition to that on the results side of things, up until the last few weeks ago things couldn’t have gone much better. It’s important that the players have that at the forefront, as opposed to the back of their minds “
Rams fans looking to make the short trip to the Potteries should head to City’s Norton United ground in Burslem for the 2pm kick off.
PARTNERSHIPS HOLD KEY TO SUCCESS, FOLLOWING FA INVITE TO WSL PROMOTION MEETING
As Derby County Ladies FC head into this weekends last 16 league cup tie away to Chester Le Street, club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb feels that the next few months will be pivotal in terms of the clubs short and long term direction of travel, on the back of them receiving an invite from the FA to meet with them at St George’s Park later this month.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss potential promotion to the prestigious Women’s Super League and on the back of it the club will then be asked to make a formal submission to the FA by February, within which they will need to identify a number of key relationships and the associated support from these.
” It has taken the club 25 years to rise from the 9th tier to the top end of the Women’s Premier League and we are closer now than we have ever been to joining the games elite within the WSL. We are the current FA Premier League Club of the Year holders and appear to have once again been shortlisted for this years award. On top of that we believe that we have one of the best on and off the field structures in place outside of the WSL. The fact that the FA visited us in the close season as part of a national club best practice report that they are undertaking, would suggest that the games administrators are also of that view.
Within any submission that we make, we will be asked to highlight the support that we receive and relationships that we have with a number of parties, including Derby University, Derby City Council, the Derbyshire FA and of course the main club. As part of that process we will be looking to sit down with each of these parties over the next couple of months and identify any areas of mutual benefit that will enhance the submission.
Promotion to the Women’s Super League would not only benefit the Derby County brand, it would have a significant positive impact on both the city of Derby and county of Derbyshire. Tens of thousands of females throughout the city and wider county would be inspired by seeing their local women’s side featured each week on the likes if Sky, BT Sports and the BBC, as well as within the national media on an almost daily basis. In addition to that football fans in general from across the region would be afforded the opportunity to see the very best players in the country on their doorstep.
There’s a lot of good work already taking place with these partners and it goes without saying that a submission bid carrying the full weight of the city will be well received by the FA. Obviously we talk to people within the game and within the FA and the strength of their key partnerships is critical in terms of any club with ambitions of wishing to enter the WSL. Therefore this will in effect need to be a city bid as opposed to a club one.
In terms of matters on the field, having defeated fellow Premier League side, Stoke City in the last round, Ewe Rams face a long trip to League One, Chester Le Street for a place in the quarter finals of the WPL League Cup. According to Manager, John Bennett, whilst the game represents something of a banana skin, it is one that he feels his side should avoid.
” Chester Le Street have built themselves something of a reputation as a cup side, having either defeated or severely tested a number of higher league sides over the past few seasons. We are carrying a few injuries, some of which are long term, however there is enough depth in the squad for us to field a very competitive side. The players are still hurting after last weeks agonizing late defeat at Middlesbrough, however it’s been a while since the club enjoyed success in this competition and a place in the quarter finals would certainly go a long way to putting the Boro game to bed “
EESIDE HEARTACHE, AS EWE RAMS FALL TO LATE BORO DOUBLE
Two goals in the last five minutes saw Derby County Ladies go from securing a huge three points against fellow early season pace setters Middlesbrough, to returning from the North East empty handed.
Manager, John Bennett had referred to the game as “ a good old fashioned six pointer “ during the week leading up to the game and he felt that his side had prepared suitably for it, having viewed over an hour of footage on their opponents in the build up to the game.
Following a strong opening by the home side in the first 15 minutes, the game settled down into a pattern, in which the more physical Boro side won the majority of the physical battles, while the visitors passing and movement allowed them to create a number of openings. Despite each side enjoying periods of dominance, neither side was able to break the deadlock before the break.
Ewe Rams started the second period well, and took a deserved lead through a trademark finish from leading scorer Mel Johnson on 50 minutes. The goal seemed to open the game up and both sides went close to adding to the scoring before the home side equalised on the hour with an excellent strike giving Derby keeper, Sarah Morgan no chance.
Buoyed at bringing the scores level, Boro began to exert their dominance on the match, however it was the visitors that re-took the lead, with Johnson neatly slotting past the home keeper with quarter of an hour to go.
Ten minutes from time Derby made a couple of tactical changes in order to see the game out, however with five minutes left Boro equalised with a free header from a corner, before taking all three points as the game entered injury time, scrambling home from close range after Derby failed to clear their lines.
Whilst Bennett took positives from the performance, he was disappointed with his sides game management during the final period. “ We’ve enjoyed a number of good passages of play , whilst Mel has taken both of her goals brilliantly and is clearly getting back to the form that has seen her top our scoring charts over the past three seasons. In addition to that we’ve seen another strong performance from 16 year old Ellie May.
On the flip side our failure to manage the game at 2-1 up has cost us dear and i’d go as far as to say that we have been a bit naive. I’ve been full of praise for the group for most of the season, however on this occasion they have fallen short of the expectations, that not only I set, but the players set themselves. What’s most disappointing is that we faced the exact same scenario the week before at Stoke, where we were 2-1 up with minutes to go. On that occasion we managed the game brilliantly during the final stages, so I was confident that we would be able to draw on that experience and repeat the feat. “
Despite the loss, the club were buoyed by results elsewhere, with their Development side maintaining their unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 3-2 League Cup victory over previously unbeaten local rivals Leicester City. Understandably, Manager Petter Asser has been delighted with the way in which the season has unfolded.
“ By their very nature Development sides can be tricky in terms of expectations. The prime objective of the side is very much within the wording, in that we look to develop the clubs best young players as they migrate from the academy to the first team squad. At the same time the games that we play are in leagues and cup competitions as opposed to friendly’s, so it’s only natural that both the management team and the players want to finish as high up the league as possible, and progress as far as we can in cup competitions.
Given that three of our group have secured decent game time with the first team this season and not looked out of place, at the same time as the side remaining unbeaten as we head into November, the indications are that we ticking both boxes. “
EXTRA TIME CUP JOY AS EWE RAMS TOPPLE STOKE IN A50 DERBY
On the back of a tough week in which Derby County Ladies received unwelcome news on the injury prognosis of two key players, the clubs spirits were lifted following a battling performance at local rivals Stoke City at the weekend, which saw them progress to the third round of the Premier League Cup on the back of an ultimately deserved 2-1 victory following extra time
Manager, John Bennett has been rightly lauded in the media for the way in which he has built a strong squad of players comprising of experience, youth and versatility over the summer. However with news filtering through that experienced midfield duo Leanne Da Silva and Lisa Giampalma could be out for some time with respective eye and knee injuries, both the youth and versatility elements of that equation were put to the test when his side made the short trip to the Potteries. In came 16 year old Ellie May for her first senior start whilst leading scorer for the past three seasons, Melissa Johnson dropped into an unfamiliar midfield role.
A tight first half saw few chances created by either side, however within a minute of the restart Ewe Rams took the lead when May ( who had played for the clubs Under 18’s the day before ) beat the keeper from the edge of the box following excellent work from Camilla Newton, another player that has found first team opportunities limited. This lead to Derby’s best period of the game, however despite creating a number of chances it was City that added to the score line on 70 minutes when Ashleigh Hayes took advantage of a kind deflection in the area to fire home from close range.
Both sides had opportunities to win the game within 90 minutes, however it was Johnson that finally put Derby into the hat for the next round when on she slotted home superbly on 102 minutes after excellent work from the industrious Nicole Ledgester. The final period of extra time tested Bennett’s young side to the limit, however encouraged by a significant Rams support they held strong to take the spoils of a pulsating cup tie.
Following the tie, Bennett was quick to pay tribute to both players and supporters. ” For me that has been the result of the season, particularly when you factor in the previous weeks very poor one at Huddersfield and our injury list. One of the things that we have been keen to eradicate is Derby’s habit of tending to win and lose our games in groups. We’ve only suffered two reverses this season and on each occasion we have followed those losses up with big performances and more importantly big wins. Since their promotion to the Premier League, Stoke have established themselves as a very difficult side to beat especially on their own patch. My players have not only toe to toe with them, but over the 120 minutes have deserved the win. Last week I was right to be critical of our performance, however the players application and willingness to work has made me very proud “
” In terms of the support from the stands that we have received today, it comes as little surprise to be honest. There is so much positive work going on behind the scenes aimed at building the clubs profile not only locally but regionally and nationally as well, and it is really starting to bear fruit. We’ve seen a significant upturn in attendances to our home games this season and today all you could hear from the dugout were the Derby fans. It makes a huge difference to the players and hopefully we are rewarding our supporters with our performances “
This weekend, Ewe Rams travel to third placed Middlesbrough and Bennett is hoping that his side can build on the Stoke result. ” Boro were only promoted to the Premier League at the end of last season, however they made their intentions very clear when on the opening day they defeated the reigning league champions 6-0 ! We are fully aware that we have a tough 90 minutes ahead of us, however i’m hopeful that the belief that the players will have got from last weekend will stand us in good stead. “
DOUBLE BLOW FELT BY EWE RAMS FOLLOWING HUDDERSFIELD LOSS
Derby County Ladies early season title challenge suffered a double setback at the weekend, as they not only fell to their first away defeat of the season at the hands of resurgent Huddersfield Town, but also saw two players side-lined through injury.
The Terriers had started the campaign slowly, including a 3-1 reverse in the corresponding fixture at Derby last month. However since the return of last seasons Premier League leading scorer, Emily Heckler, they have enjoyed a significant up turn in fortunes that saw them return from Nottingham Forest with a 5-2 victory the previous week.
John Bennett’s sides pre match preparations were not helped by a major traffic delay on route to the game, however few could have anticipated them going into the interval 3-0 down including a 25 yard effort from the prolific Heckler. Despite a much improved second period that saw Ewe Rams dominate much of the possession they fell further behind before Mel Johnson scored a late consolation goal for the visitors.
The result sees Bennett’s drop to fourth in the table and he has challenged his players to respond in a positive manner. ” Yes there have been some nice passages of play in patches, however our execution in the final third has been very poor and has lead to the players looking to go long at times. That is not what this team is about and when you allie that to a failure to win our personal battles it’s been a bad day at the office all round. Huddersfield were good value for their win and played very well, however we were very poor and I have asked the players to respond in the same manner that they did after we lost to West Bromwich two weeks ago. That was our first loss of the season and we followed it up with an excellent victory over Bradford, so I’ll be looking for a similar reaction when we travel to Stoke City in the league cup this weekend “
Bennett made six new signings this summer including Women’s Super League midfielders, Lisa Giampalma and Leanne Da Silva, however both sustained injuries that may see them side-lined for a number of weeks. ” Lisa caught one in the eye and it swelled up very quickly to the point where she was struggling to see out of it, whilst Leanne has a swollen knee that will see her meet with a specialist this week. Given the way in which both have integrated themselves into the group and positively impacted on our play, their absence is not ideal and we’ll certainly be hoping that it’s not prolonged. We feel that we have improved the depth within the squad this season, so there are opportunities now for players that have perhaps not had as much game time as they would have liked to showcase themselves. “
This weekends opponents, Stoke City became the latest in an ever growing list of women’s clubs that have staged fixtures at their main club grounds when they hosted Nottingham Forest in the Premier League earlier in the week at the Bet365 Stadium, Whilst the League cup tie with Derby will be played at their usual Norton United base, Bennett is sure that the combination of local rivalry and a one off cup tie will make for a good game. ” It’s great to see Stoke become the latest club to host a fixture at their men’s clubs home ground and its certainly something that we are looking to do at Derby. However games with City are always keenly contested affairs and it wouldn’t much matter if they were played on a back lawn in terms of the commitment that both sets of players give. We are looking forward to a good old fashioned cup tie and hopefully a swift return to winning ways. ”
TOUGHEST TEST YET, AS EWE RAMS PREPARE FOR MIDDAY SHOWDOWN WITH CHAMPIONS ALBION
This Sunday Derby County Ladies 100% start to the Premier League season will undergo it’s severest test yet according to Manager, John Bennett when they entertain reigning league champions, West Bromwich Albion at the clubs, Don Amott LG Arena, Mickleover. A glance at the league table might indicate otherwise, given that Ewe Rams currently sit joint top, whilst Albion prop the table up having yet to register a point in four games, however Bennett feels that the visitors are far better than their position suggests.
“ Last season Albion were something of a complete package in that they were very tight knit as a group, highly clinical in attack and demonstrated an immense work ethic in terms of getting possession back as quickly as possible once they had relinquished it. They might not have been the league’s most expansive side, however they were certainly it’s most effective, and in addition to that they also made national headlines on the back of their excellent progress in the FA Cup.
In some ways their early season form reminds me of Mourinho’s Chelsea last season, in that the have retained the vast majority of a title winning squad, have actually played quite well in patches but just can’t seem to buy a point. We know that their A game is in there and my players will be very much going out there with the attitude that they are facing the league champions as opposed to the league’s bottom side “
In terms of his own team, Bennett has been delighted with not only results but also by the way in which the squad have reacted to a transition in playing style. “ It’s an old cliché, however at the end of the day football is a results business, so if you’d offered me three league wins and progress in the cup in our first four games I wouldn’t have complained, even if we’d been somewhat fortuitous in securing them. The good thing is that we have firstly deserved each of our victories, and secondly we’ve secured them on the back of footballing performances. The players have been used to a more direct style of play over the past two seasons, however they have been receptive to a passing style in which we are happy to retain possession of the ball and patiently work our opportunities “
Kick-off is at the earlier time of 12 noon with admission free to all Derby County Season ticket holders on presentation of their card, and Bennett is hopeful of another large and vociferous home support.
“ The crowd last time round against Huddersfield definitely played their part in what was a very tight game and the numbers have grown with each game. We like to think that it’s been down to both the way in which we play our football and the overall match day experience, and we look forward to seeing many more new faces as the season progresses. I can’t think of a women’s Premier League club that sells it’s own replica shirts, let alone one that sells out of them like we did last season and it all adds to the positive vibe seen at our home games ”
YOUTH PLAYS ITS PART AS EWE RAMS SINK TERRIERS TO SHARE TOP SPOT
A large and vocal crowd saw Derby County Ladies 100% start to the season continue at their Don Amott LG Arena home at the weekend, with a hard fought 3-1 win over Huddersfield Town. The win sees Ewe Rams sit joint top of the Women’s Premier League having progressed to the second round of the league cup the week before, however John Bennett’s new look side were forced to work hard for the win.
The Visitors enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, however Derby slowly began to take control and were rewarded shortly before half time through a stunning opener from winger Lauren Nicholls, who having picked the ball up deep in her own half beat four Town players on the counter attack before firing home from 25 yards, albeit with a slight deflection.
Both sides had chances to score in the second period before a long ball over the top saw Lorna Abbey somewhat harshly adjudged to have brought down the league’s leading scorer last season, Emily Heckler in the area. Heckler duly dispatched the penalty, despite 17 year old Rams keeper Zoey Millington getting a strong hand to it.
Both sides looked to press for a winner, however Derby broke the deadlock 15 minutes from time as Nicole Ledgester fired into the top corner from 20 yards after excellent build up play by Leanne De Silva.
Bennett has already shown this season that he is not afraid to give the clubs younger players a chance and brought on 16 year old forward, Ellie May with 10 minutes to go. May who had only played for the clubs Under 18’s the day before sealed the win 3 minutes from time with a cool one on one finish to the delight of the home support.
Speaking after the match, Bennett was not only delighted with the result, but pleased with the way in which it was achieved. “ Huddersfield have provided us with our toughest test of the season and they will probably view the two goal margin as harsh. We have spent a lot of time this season on working on our shape when we don’t have the ball and in that regard I thought we were excellent. We are naturally disappointed to have conceded our first goal of the season, however I felt the decision was a poor one. The referee was in a far better position than the linesman who has adjudged Lorna’s challenge to be a foul, however it’s never easy to overrule your assistants. That said it’s a long ball over the top and we should have done better in dealing with it “
Bennett was equally pleased with his sides use of the ball in possession and the performances of Millington and May. “ The players have fully bought into our playing style philosophy and are rightly getting credit for its execution. When the match day sponsor tells you that he could quite easily have awarded the Derby player of the match award to any one of half a dozen players, you have to be pleased, however I thought Zoey was brilliant from start to finish and showed a calmness and maturity way beyond her years. In terms of Ellie she is one that we need to bring through in the right way, however i’ve had no hesitation in introducing her into a pressure situation and she’s justified that by putting the game to bed for
Elsewhere the clubs Reserves enjoyed a superb 6-2 win away to rivals Nottingham Forest, whilst seven of the clubs academy sides were in action with six of them securing wins and the recently introduced U18’s Development side gaining a credible 0-0 draw with Burntwood.
MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, AS EWE RAMS PROGRESS IN LEAGUE CUP
Derby County Ladies maintained their 100% record for the new season with a stunning 7-0 victory over Steel City Wanderers in the Premier League Cup at the Don Amott LG Arena today. Manager, John Bennett gave starts to Vanessa Anderson, Lisa Giampalma and Camilla Newton, whilst Zoey Millington stepped in for injured first choice keeper, Sarah Morgan.
Giampalma joined Derby from Sheffield FC this summer having notched over 100 goals in a career spanning nearly 300 games for the WSL club, and she soon stamped her authority on the tie with two well taken first half goals, before Natalie Reay and Nikki Ledgester virtually killed the game off before the break. Reay added a second in the 50th minute before captain Melissa Johnson and Nicole Dale completed the scoring.
The result means that Ewe Rams have started the campaign with three wins and three clean sheets and Manager, John Bennett was understandably pleased when he spoke to the media after the game. ” Today has ticked a number of boxes for the group. In terms of individuals we have been able to provide game time to players who have not started in our previous two games and the players that have come in have performed really well . In terms of the squad as a collective we have delivered another very strong performance, kept a third successive clean sheet and progressed to the next round of the cup. All things considered it’s been a good afternoons work, however we put that to bed now and concentrate our thoughts on Huddersfield Town next week.”
Steel City Wanderers operate a league below Derby and clearly found the step up in level a tough ask, however Bennett was full of praise for the Sheffield side. ” I said to our Chairman before the game that Wanderers are a committed side who will give everything until the final whistle regardless of the score, and that pretty much summed them up. They spent most of the game on the back foot, however they never once let their heads drop and they also enjoyed some good passages of play themselves. Both their players and management team deserve a lot of praise today, they were an absolute credit to both the club and themselves and we wish them all the very best for the rest of the season ”
Elsewhere the Derby’s Reserves secured a superb 5-3 win away to fellow title contenders, Cardiff City, with Manager, Petter Asser delighted with the result. ” I think it’s fair to say that Cardiff away was probably the trickiest fixture that we could have been handed for an opener, however the players have applied themselves superbly and we have put down a very big early season marker to both ourselves and the league. The players have worked incredibly hard over the summer and today was just reward for that endeavour. ”
100% Start Maintained, As Ewe Rams Secure A52 Derby Bragging Rights
Following a hugely impressive pre-season, Derby County Ladies made it two wins out of two for the season proper with a hard fought but ultimately deserved 2-0 victory at arch rivals Nottingham Forest on Sunday in the Women’s Premier League.
Like the previous weeks opponents, Bradford, who were defeated by the same score, Forest enjoyed an excellent season last time round in which at one stage they were challenging for the title.
An understandably tense first half saw the home side enjoy the lions share of possession, however Derby’s players maintained their discipline and shape throughout, restricting Forest to a handful of chances.
The second period saw Derby begin to take the upper hand and a trade mark Sam Griffiths free kick deservedly broke the deadlock, before substitute and debutant Lisa Giampala finished off a well worked move to double the advantage and effectively kill the game off. With maximum points secured and two clean sheets, with the club yet to play at home, Manager, John Bennett was understandably delighted when he spoke after the game.
” For me the most pleasing aspect today was not just the result, but the perfect execution of our pre match game plan. Forest had opened their own campaign with a victory and a clean sheet up at Newcastle and we knew that they would come at us early on. We’ve lcoped well with the pressure, minimised opportunities and then looked to take the upper hand, and I feel that the result was not only fully warranted, but reward for the attitude and effort that the players have shown ”
This weekend Derby open their home programme with a League Cup tie against League 1 side, Steel City Wanderers, with Bennett calling for continued focus. ” For Wanderers part they have everything to gain and little to lose, whilst from our end we have built up a nice little run in pre-season and the early part of the campaign and are eager for that to continue ”
With the men’s side not in action due to the international break, the club are hoping that Derby County fans will take the opportunity to watch the female arm of the club. Kick off at the clubs Don Ammot Stadium home in Mickleover is at 2pm, with admission just £ 2 for Adults and £ 1 for U16’s, with Derby County FC season ticket holders gaining free admission upon presentation of their season ticket card.
Derby County Ladies continued their excellent pre-season form into the new Premier League campaign with a hard earned 2-0 win at Bradford City on Sunday.
The Bantams have enjoyed top five finishes in each of the three seasons since their promotion to the top flight, however strong early possession saw Ewe Rams enjoy the lions share of the opening exchanges before taking the lead on 13 minutes when Sam Griffiths gave the home keeper no chance from a trade mark free kick from the edge of the area.
Derby continued to deal with City’s more direct approach play, however they were dealt a blow when keeper Zoe Millington afternoon came to an abrupt end on the half hour mark through injury. Without a replacement keeper on the bench, centre half Lorna Abbey took over the role, however a combination of possession and tactical discipline kept her workload to a minimum until the 60th minute when Bradford were awarded a penalty, only for the resulting kick to be blazed high over the bar.
With few chances being created at either end, the miss was always going to play a big part in the final outcome and with Bradford increasingly committing resources forward as they went in search of an equaliser, Derby were able to capitalise on the break through a goal from debutant Nicole Dale, after two good saves from the home keeper.
Manager, John Bennett had stated in the build up to the game that the clubs strong pre-season would count for little and he was delighted with a number of aspects of both the result and performance. “ Result wise it’s an away win at one of the stronger sides in the league and a clean sheet, whilst performance wise we’ve got the ball down and played good football in the first half, before digging in and battling in the second period. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that last season we went 2-0 up in the same fixture and ended up losing 3-2, so character wise it’s pleasing. On top of that we’ve managed to give game time to 16 year old, Ellie May who has come up through our academy, so all things considered i’m delighted. “
This Sunday Derby make the short trip down the A52 to Basford to face local rivals, Nottingham Forest, who themselves enjoyed a away win and a clean sheet at the expense of Newcastle on the season’s opening day. Bennett is under no illusions that the game will be tough, however he is confident that Ewe Rams can put down another positive early season marker “ As a passing side the pitch at Basford will suit us down to the ground and after the pre-season that we have had and the result up at Bradford, confidence is high. Games with Forest have historically always been close affairs and it’s usually down to which team put’s their chances away as opposed to one side completely dominating the other”
Kick off at Basford’s Greenwich Avenue ground is 2-00pm with admission priced at £ 3 adults, £ 1-50 concessions and U16’s Free
Moore Joins Ewe Rams As Media Director
Derby County’s year long search for a Director of Media has finally ended, with the recruitment of Leicester based sports journalist, Andy Moore ( pictured ).
Moore (31) brings a wealth of experience to the role having covered the game at the highest domestic level, regularly covering matches for WSL sides, Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Notts County. With the growing interest in the game, Moore believes that the profile of women’s football in the UK is at its highest, on the back of the England Lionesses success over the past few years, and that Derby County Ladies are excellently placed to launch themselves into the upper echelons of the game.
“I am delighted to join Derby County Ladies as their Director of Media. With the women’s game growing and the recent news of a structure change at the highest domestic level of the sport, Derby County Ladies now have an excellent opportunity to become a major player in one of the UK’s fastest growing sports and our aim is to be one of the forefront clubs, to take this sport to the next level. Social Media is an important aspect of any club’s ambitions, and we will be looking at how to better engage with our fans, with the club website the first of many aspects of our media face to be reviewed. These are exciting times for Derby County Ladies and I am delighted to be part of it.
According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, Moore’s appointment will hopefully prove to be instrumental in improving an what he sees as an integral part of the club. “Derby County Ladies have a good track record in terms of the appointments that we make and the structure that we have in place, and it’s no coincidence that we were recently asked to assist the football association in a project that they are undertaking around the production of a club best practice blueprint. This role was identified a year ago, however as with all our appointments, we are prepared to wait as long as is necessary for the right person.
Andy has covered mainstream sports such as football and cricket, right through to Olympic sports. He is an experienced writer for both print and digital online sites and has experience in all aspects of TV and Radio production. In addition to that he has set up numerous websites and ran social media campaigns for these sites achieving well over 400,000 visitors. He will start with us towards the middle of August and I am hopeful that by Christmas our supporters will have noticed a significant improvement in our website and social media sites.
This appointment means that the only role that we are now looking to fill within the clubs boardroom and coaching structure is the equally important Commercial Directors role. As with the Director of Media role we have waited for some considerable time to fill this position, however we are happy to wait for the right candidate to materialise. I firmly believe that once we have that position filled, that in terms of structure we will be better placed than just about every club in the Women’s Premier League and probably half of those in WSL2. We are under no illusions as to some of the significant developments being seen at clubs in the WPL as they strive to secure a place within the WSL, however having solid foundations and structure is absolutely critical when it comes to long term success and sustainability.”
Bennett’s Six Pack Complete, As QPR’s Nicholson Joins Ewe Rams
Centre half, Nicholson (23) was voted runner up at the London clubs Player Of The Season awards last season and according to Rams Manager, John Bennett she represents a big loss to the R’s. “Vanessa enjoyed her time at QPR and would probably have stayed, had it not been for her securing a job role within the area. When her availability became known I spoke to my opposite number at QPR, Martino Chevannes and it was clear that he was hugely disappointed to lose a player of her quality”
Nicholson’s signature takes the number of new faces that have come into the club to six, which is the number that Bennett had in mind when he looked to shape his new look squad. “I was happy with the group that I inherited in terms of its size and my plan was to look to balance the number of arrivals with departures, whilst looking to improve on the overall strength of the squad. We’ve brought in a number of players that have operated at Women’s Super League level or have been key performers for sides within the Premier League and i’m quietly confident that we have achieved our aim. Make no mistake, the Premier League appears to be a lot stronger than it was last season, however I believe that we are stronger.”
Newton Returns As Ewe Rams Announce Fifth Summer Signing
Camilla Newton became Manager, John Bennetts, fifth signing of the summer in move that sees the left winger return to a club at which she spent seven years. Left winger Newton (19) played at every level within the Derby County academy before progressing to the first team, however an opportunity to join WSL 1 club Notts County proved to good to miss and Newton made the short trip down the A52 two years ago.
The Magpies have enjoyed significant recent success including an FA Cup Final appearance and Newton’s time there has seen her spend most of her time within their development squad, however according to Bennett (pictured with Newton) her time there will have served her well. “Cam left Derby on good terms with few blaming her for wanting to try her luck at that level. She’s spent two seasons at one of the country’s leading clubs and being in and around that environment can only have been beneficial. She’s a player that excites with her skill and pace and our supporters will be delighted to see her back in a Derby shirt”
Newton joins new signings, Nicole Dale, Leanne De Silva, Lisa Giampalma and Molly Johnson.
Bennett Delighted As Sheffield Legend, Giampalma, Joins Ewe Rams
Derby County Ladies have pulled off a coup with the signing of Sheffield FC legend Lisa Giampalma, who became the clubs fourth signing of the summer following the arrival of former Women’s Super League players, Nicole Dale, Leanne De Silva and Molly Johnson.
Giampalma (32) spent nine years at Sheffield during which time she won a staggering twelve trophies which included six Premier League titles. On a personal level the forward notched up over 270 appearances and scored over 100 goals for the Yorkshire outfit ,who dominated the Premer League scene until they eventually secured a place in the WSL, after Giampalma scored the only goal of the game to defeat Portsmouth in the play off final.
According to Manager, John Bennett, both players and management are looking forward to working alongside Giampalma. “Everyone within the Premier League is aware of Lisa in terms of her quality and the standards that she and her Sheffield team mates set before they rightly took their place in the WSL. To score over 100 goals is an incredible feat, especially when you consider that Lisa started out as a central midfielder. The players were delighted when we announced that we had secured her signature and both myself and my coaching team are excited at the prospect of working with one of this leagues stand out players”
Giampalma admits that leaving Sheffield brings mixed emotion, however she is pleased to be joining a club with WSL ambitions of their own. “Anyone that spends nine years at a club is going to miss that familiarity, especially when the club in question has enjoyed the level of success that we had at Sheffield. That said I have been hugely impressed with what I have seen and heard about Derby and when you look at the players that they already have as well as the other new signings I believe that we have the ingredients to be successful”
Further Super League Experience Secured As Johnson Signs For Ewe Rams
Derby County Ladies made their third signing in less than a week with the acquisition of WSL 1 player, Molly Johnson from Doncaster Belles.
Johnson (19) was part of the Doncaster side that were promoted to the top flight last season, having been at the club for the past three years. Prior to that the full back spent ten years at the highly acclaimed Sheffield United Centre of Excellence.
According to Manager, John Bennett ( pictured with Johnson ) the move works well for both club and player. “Through a combination of injuries, transfers and the way in which the team has been set up, we find ourselves short in terms of the full back positions and when we found out that a player of Molly’s calibre was potentially available, we knew we had to act quickly. She brings a tenacity that we’ve perhaps been a bit light on previously and the quality that comes with having spent three seasons at a club of the calibre of Belles.
Johnson’s capture follows hot on the heels of the arrival of former WSL players, Leanne De Silva and Nicole Dale and according to Bennett more signings are likely.” Six players from last season have left the club and we would ideally like to replace those to get ourselves back up to a squad of eighteen. As with any team we are looking for those that we bring in to add both a quality and experience that collectively makes the squad stronger. I’m delighted with who we’ve brought in so far and if we can get a few more over the line of similar standard then I firmly believe that we will have achieved our aim. ”
New Signing De Silva Looking For Further Success At Derby
Derby County Ladies have announced their second signing of the season in former Manchester City player Leanne De Silva
De Silva (29) joins another former Women’s Super League player, Nicole Dale as part of manager, John Bennetts new look squad and like Dale she brings a wealth of experience which has seen her captain both Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday.
Widely recognised within the game as a creative midfielder, De Silva is seen by Bennett ( pictured with De Silva ) as exactly the type of character that he wants to add to his dressing room. ” Leanne is first and foremost a winner. She has won league titles at both Leicester City and Sheffield as well as winning the Premier League cup and being invited to trials with England. We already have a number of strong characters within our group, however in both of the last two seasons the team has tended to either go through lengthy unbeaten or winless patches. What we are looking for this time round is greater consistency and bringing players with the experience and mentality of Leanne in will hopefully help us achieve that ”
De Silva, who also had a spell playing in the USA for San Francisco Mad Dogs is delighted to have finally put pen to paper for the club. “I suffered quite a serious leg break and ankle ligament injury last season, so i’m keen to make up for lost time by securing regular football within an ambitious group. Derby are a club that have made huge strides off the field in recent seasons whilst on the field firmly establishing themselves within the Premier League. Everything’s set up here for us to push on towards securing a place within the Women’s Super League (WSL) and I am keen to help play a part in that. There are already a good bunch of players at the club and the manager is looking to add further quality to that, so there is no reason why we can’t have a successful season ”
“Feels Like I’ve Finally Come Home” Says Ewe Rams First Summer Signing
Dale (24) started her career at Sheffield Wednesday before eventually progressing to the WSL firstly with Doncaster Belles and more recently Villa. However despite being born and bred in Derby and a staunch Rams fan, she has never appeared for her home town club. According to Dale, the timing feels right and she is excited at the prospect of joining a club with WSL ambitions of their own. ” Derby have come on significantly as a club in recent years, and in terms of their structure and impressive off the field developments, everything is set up for the WSL. As a Derby girl I’ve naturally wanted to turn out for my home town club and I feel that with the plans that the manager has for the squad that the timing was right. It really does feel like I’ve come home to a certain extent and I hope that my experience can prove to be of use in pushing us on towards the top end of the Premier League ”
According to Manager, John Bennett (pictured with Dale), the signing is hopefully the first of a number that he is looking to make as he looks to enhance a squad that finished 7th last season, having initially topped the table for the first three months. ” Nicole is exactly the type of player that I want to bring into the group, to not only complement the players that we have but to help them develop their own games. She is a player that we identified very early as one that we wanted to get in and whilst a number of other clubs were naturally interested we are glad that she has put pen to paper with us. Whilst she’s a Derby girl and a Rams fan, players of Nicole’s standard sign with their head and not their hearts and she is joining us for purely footballing reasons ”
The club are expected to announce further signings shortly.
BENNETT FEELING POSITIVE AS EWE RAMS LAY DOWN EARLY MARKER OF INTENT
On the back of some significant changes to the clubs structure during the close season, new manager John Bennett saw his side lay down a hugely positive and somewhat unexpected early season marker when they defeated WSL 2 side Watford 7-0 on Sunday.
The Hornets started line up featured ten of the eleven players that had defeated previously unbeaten WSL2 leaders, Everton in their previous fixture, whilst Ewe Rams saw four new faces in their starting line up in Molly Johnson, Nicole Dale, Lisa Giampalma and the returning Camilla Newton following her spell at WSL1 outfit Notts County.
Bennetts new look side got off to the perfect start on 3 minutes Derby when Hannah Ward finished off an excellent exchange of passes. The home side continued to retain the bulk of possession limiting Watford to strikes from distance and were rewarded in the 25th minute when newly appointed captain and last season’s top scorer, Mel Johnson ( pictured ) doubled the lead.
Bennett made changes for the second half introducing a fifth new face in Leanne De Silva a former WSL player returning from a long term injury. Not surprisingly Watford came out the blocks quickly, however the Derby defence remained firm leaving goalkeeper Sarah Morgan with very little to do and Ewe Rams all but sealed the game on 65 minutes as Molly Johnson picked the ball up 25 yards out before striking an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
Johnsons goal seemed to inspire Derby at the same time as deflating the visitors and both Natalie Reay and Giampalma went on to grab themselves two goals each, having run the Watford defence ragged for most of the game.
After the game a delighted Bennett reflected on a positive start to the new campaign both in terms of the result and pre season training. “ We started our pre-season between a week and two week before a lot of clubs have and the players have been receptive to the management ideas and philosophies that we are looking to ingrain from day one. The players look relaxed and have enjoyed the sessions that we have delivered so far. I felt that much of what we are looking to do was evident within the performance against a highly regarded Watford side, however this is one game and it is important that we stay both grounded and focused.
Ewe Rams continue their pre-season campaign with a fixture against Loughborough this weekend
Derby County Ladies Scoop Latest Award In A Season Of Success
On the back of a season of on and off the field success, Derby County Ladies have received further external recognition of their impressive progress in the shape of Academy Director, Dave Cholerton being named this week as FA Volunteer of the Year 2015/16 by the Derbyshire FA.
The award comes on the back of the club being named FA Premier League Club Of The Year and Derby City Council, Club Of The Year for the 2015/16 season whilst on a personal level the award is timely, given that Cholerton was shortlisted for the ‘ Outstanding Contribution To Women’s Football ‘ award at the annual FA Awards in which the club award was secured.
” I’ve been involved with Derby County Ladies for just over fourteen years and for the last two seasons as the clubs Academy Director. It’s a role that takes up a lot of my spare time, however the rewards of being part of the clubs significant development and progress during that time and the exciting ambitions that we have, make it all worth while. Whilst I’m not in this for either personal gain or awards, it’s always nice to be recognised by those outside the club. I’m aware of a number of superb officers, coaches and personnel that work tirelessly for clubs across the entire county, so to be highlighted for special praise is quite humbling ”
The award will be formerly presented to Cholerton at the Derbyshire FA Awards at the end of July and he will also be automatically entered into the Regional Awards which will be announced at the end of this month.
GRIFFITHS AND BENNETT APPOINTMENTS COMPLETE THE DERBY WAY
On the back of the hugely successful appointment of Dave Cholerton as the clubs Academy Director two season ago, Derby County Ladies have announced that they have added further organic growth to the clubs structure with the appointment of Sam Griffiths as Director of Football and John Bennett as First Team Manager.
Cholerton had previously coached at every level within the clubs Academy over a fourteen year period and has proved to be an inspired appointment since taking over as the figurehead of the clubs junior sides, who have once again delivered a number of league and cup successes this season. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, Cholerton’s success has played a part in the clubs thinking.
” Dave’s achievements and passion for Derby County Ladies were recognised nationally when he was shortlisted at this years annual FA Awards for his outstanding contribution to football. He knits everything from our Under 10’s to our U16’s together superbly and it’s something that we have definitely missed at senior level since John Griffiths took up the England U17’s managers role 18 months ago.
In Sam we have someone who has had offers to join other clubs operating at a higher level to us in a playing capacity, however she has always remained loyal to Derby. When you ally to that the fact that she is a full time coach who is currently in the final stages of her UEFA A Licence, she represents the perfect candidate in terms of re-imbedding the clubs playing philosophies at senior level and overseeing the exciting link with the Derby County Regional Talent Centre, which will see the RTC directly linked to Derby County Ladies at Under 17 level. ”
Gibb, feels that the return of John Bennett to the First Team managers role, completes the Derby jigsaw. ” JB was manager when I first came into the club and like Dave and Sam he had been at the club for a number of years, the latter of which saw him playing a huge part in helping the club establish itself at Premier League level. Unfortunately a change in in his personal circumstances meant that he had to vacate the role, however he has enjoyed witnessing the clubs significant off the field progress and by his own admission has greatly missed being a part of that.
I’m now looking at a club that has black and white running through its veins from the Under 10’s right up to the board room, with key personnel within the clubs structure having a full understanding and familiarity of where we have come from and where we are looking to go.
Derby County Ladies Part Company With Stuart Wilson
Derby County Ladies have parted company with Manager, Stuart Wilson following Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League defeat to Sporting Albion.
Wilson joined the club in January 2015 with Ewe Rams sat in the relegation zone at the time, and went on to oversee a remarkable sequence of results that not only saw the climb away from the danger zone, but go on to secure a top six finish.
The club has gained a reputation for openness with its supporters in relation to both on and off the field targets that are set at the start of each season, and in terms of the former a top five league finish and a run in either the League of FA Cup were communicated to fans back in August. Today’s result means that the club are no longer able to finish fifth, despite topping the table at Christmas, whilst they succumbed to early exits in both national level competitions.
According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the club has acted with integrity and has much to thank Wilson for. ” A number of supporters voiced opinion that the decision should have been taken when we lost to Nuneaton a month ago, however at that juncture there was still time to meet our league objective, even if we’d already fallen short of our cup one. We felt it right to afford the management team opportunity to turn things around, however results have not improved so we have unfortunately had to act.
As a club we owe Stuart a huge debt of gratitude for what he did both last season and during the first half of this one and the way in which he handled the news when it came was testament to him as a person and to the relationship that we have enjoyed throughout his time at the club. Myself and the clubs board genuinely wish him well for the future “.
The club have appointed long serving club coach, Jenny Simpson as Interim Manager until the end of the season whilst they look to recruit Wilson’s successor, however Gibb feels that consideration needs to be given to the wider club picture as opposed to just the first team. ” Right now the club’s main priority is to bring in a Director Of Football to oversee our three ( soon to be four ) senior sides in terms of implementing the club philosophies that Derby have long been synonymous with. It’s fair to say that we’ve probably lost our way a bit over the past 18 months in that respect, albeit through circumstance as opposed to fault and we need to re-align. In terms of the first team managers role we will be looking for someone who buys into our DNA in terms of both our structure and philosophies.”
Record Numbers Attend Derby County Ladies FC Annual Football Festival
A record number 360 junior school youngsters from 39 Derby schools attended the clubs fourth annual football festival. The festival which was held across two days at the Soccerdome and was supported by the Derby County Community Trust, Derbyshire FA and the School Sports Partnership was deemed to be a huge success by Derby County Ladies Academy Director, Dave Cholerton.
” As the leading club in the county we have always felt that we have something of an ambassadorial role to play when it comes to promoting women’s football not just in Derby but further afield as well. Establishing the football festival has been a key part of that and each year the number of participants has grown whilst the quality of the festival has improved.
The festival has a number of aims, all of which we feel are being met. First and foremost the concept is to expose young girls, many who have never played before, to football. Secondly we look to highlight to both youngsters and schools that Derby County not only has a women’s team but one that is operating at premier league level, whilst thirdly there is what we call the pathway objective. Ideally the girls that have attended have enjoyed the experience and are keen to continue playing. We therefore signpost players to not only our own summer club trials but to other clubs in the area. This is somewhat bizarre in that we often find ourselves providing young talent to clubs that we compete against at junior league level, however it all comes back to that ambassadorial role ”
The first day of the festival saw 110 Year 3 and 4 pupils attend with Parkside winning the final, whilst day two saw 250 Year 5 and 6 pupils attend with Walter Evans winning the final on penalties. A number of Derby County first team players including club captain, Sam Griffiths and long serving centre half Lorna Abbey attended the event and according to Griffiths, who also works for the football association, the festival not only eptimises Derby County as a club, but the progress and growth of women’s football in general.
” It’s been well reported in the national football media that we are the current FA ‘ Premier League Club of The Year ‘ holders and events such as the football festival clearly played a part in us receiving that national recognition. Women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the country and will soon overtake Rugby to become the second highest participation sport in the country behind the men’s game. When you align a diligent club that thinks outside of itself and a national trend, it’s little surprise that the two days have gone so well ”
GROUNDHOG DAY, AS FAMILIAR ISSUES CONTINUE TO COST EWE RAMS
An all to familiar tale of early domination and a failure to convert possession into goals, followed by a relinquishing of the upper hand and a lesson in finishing, cost Derby County Ladies twice in the space of four days earlier this week, as they firstly fell 4-0 at home to Premier league leaders, Preston on Sunday, before suffering a 3-0 loss at Sporting Albion on Wednesday.
It’s hard to believe that Ewe Rams topped the league prior to Christmas, and a season that initially promised so much is now almost certain to conclude having fallen short of the expectations that were laid out at the start of it.
Derby got off to a flying start against Preston and for the first 20 minutes were totally dominant, creating a number of good chances. Hannah Ward twice fired close from 20 yards, whilst Nikki Ledgister and Mel Johnson failed to take advantage of couple of well worked two versus one situations.
As had been the case in the previous games with both Nuneaton and Blackburn Rovers, Derby eventually paid for their failure to covert chances into goals, as a quick switch in play allowed North End to convert a breakaway goal from close range shortly before the interval. Inspired by on loan Women’s Super League player, Natasha Flint the visitors stamped their authority on the second period, scoring a second within three minutes of the re-start.
Derby rallied and were presented with a golden opportunity when they were awarded a penalty midway through the second period for a foul in the box on Johnson, however captain, Sam Griffiths effort crashed back off the bottom of the cross bar before being cleared to safety. This seemed to inspire both Preston and Flint, who took the game beyond Derby firstly through a contender for WPL goal of the season via a 30 yard volley before netting a free kick from distance.
Four days later a healthy and vociferous away following witnessed a similar game unravel at Sporting Albion’s, Halesowen Town FC ground as a competitive first half saw both teams go into the break level. Unfortunately it was the home side that took the initiative on 52 minutes when errors in both midfield and defence eventually lead to a neat headed finish over on rushing Rams keeper, Sarah Morgan.
Derby endeavoured to push forward and whilst they enjoyed plenty of possession, Albion firstly extended their lead through a long ball forward that was not dealt with before wrapping the game up through a penalty, albeit awarded somewhat controversially.
Manager, Stuart Wilson was reflective after a difficult week. ” I was pleased with the first half perfomances in both both matches, however in the Preston match we didn’t compete in the second period, whilst against Albion we didn’t show enough quality going forwards and a lack of concentration caused defensive errors. There are two league games left, so we need to re-group and look to finish the season with some pride”
SMASH AND GRAB RAID CONDEMS EWE RAMS TO SHOCK HOME DEFEAT
A failure to once again convert possession and chances into goals saw Derby County Ladies come up short for the second week running as they fell to relegation threatened Nuneaton. The defeat which followed on the back of one at Blackburn the previous week, means that a season that started with table topping form and the potential promise of promotion to the Women’s Super League (WSL) is drifting towards mid table mediocrity with just four games left.
Things could have been very different had Derby taken a number of early chances which included skipper Aimee Perry hitting the post from close range, and for the remainder of the first half the visitors were restricted to sporadic counter attacks that were generally picked off by keeper Sarah Morgan who deliberately held a high line on the edge of her area.
Having disappointingly gone in level at the break, the second half started in similar to fashion to the first as the Nuneaton keeper pulled off two outstanding close range saves from firstly top scorer Mel Johnson and then Hannah Ward. Supporters began to sense that things were not going to go Derby’s way when Perry was taken to hospital with what was later confirmed to be a fractured eye socket following one of a number of competitive opposition challenges.
These fears were eventually realised when a long throw was partly cleared allowing Nuneaton’s lone striker to finish well from inside the area.
According to manager, Stuart Wilson the loss of Perry combined with the Nuneaton side’s greater resilience ultimately lead to the visitors securing only their third league win of the campaign. ” Nuneaton will perhaps reflect that they have been somewhat fortuitous to have secured the victory, given the chances and possession that we had. That said, they were very committed from the off and we perhaps allowed ourselves to be bullied at times. The loss of Pez was a big blow and the injury unfortunately looks to be a nasty one that may well keep her out for the remainder of the season. Whilst it provides an opportunity for another member of the squad albeit in undesirable circumstances, she is a big player for us and will be missed ”
This Sunday Ewe Rams host league leaders Preston North End before they travel to West Bromwich’s Sporting Albion on Wednesday evening. Wilson accepts that both games will be tough, but feels that there is little reason for his players to be fearful. ” It’s only two months ago that we fell to a somewhat underserved last minute goal in the FA Cup at Preston, while Albion’s own cup successes on a number of fronts this season mean that they are having to play an awful lot of games in a relatively short period of time in order to catch up. If we can get back to converting the chances that our play is creating then we have the potential to get something from both games ”
WILSON SEES POSITIVES AS EWE RAMS FALL TO TITLE CHASING BLACKBURN
Any faint chances of Derby County Ladies landing a first ever Premier League title disappeared last Sunday as Stuart Wilson’s side lost 3-1 to pre season favourites Blackburn Rovers, who still retain a chance of living up to their early season billing.
Yet another healthy away following were treated to an excellent opening half hour that saw Ewe Rams not only dominate the game but take a thoroughly deserved lead, with leading scorer Mel Johnson neatly finishing off a flowing six pass move to take her seasons tally to 16. Johnson has enjoyed arguably the best season of her Rams career to date, with only Huddersfield Town’s prolific talisman, Emily Heckler having scored more.
Despite their title aspirations, the Lancashire side have been keen to introduce 16 year old England sensation Ella Toone to premier league football slowly, however an injury to one of the Rovers midfield quartet, saw a player who has been widely touted to eventually go on to be a household name, introduced to proceedings on 35 minutes and an equaliser in which she was heavily involved followed shortly before the break.
The added impetus of Toone’s presence saw the home side enjoy the lions share of the second period and a further two goals were added before substitute Sam Griffiths cleverly drew a foul in the penalty area in the last minute of normal time. Unfortunately the normally reliable Johnson chose precision over power allowing the impressive home keeper to dive to her right and save.
General consensus amongst supporters of both sides was that had the penalty been converted it would have provided a fairer reflection of the overall game, however Wilson was pleased with elements of the overall performance and sees Rovers as the benchmark to which Derby can realistically reach within the next eighteen months.
” I think the game showed where Blackburn are in comparison to ourselves. They have a bit more experience which allied to their crop of exciting youngsters makes them a real force at this level. We are slowly but surely building things in the same way and I’d suggest that we are probably a season behind them in terms of progress and level, however we are keen to catch up as quickly as possible.
In terms of the performance, had we taken some of the early chances that we created the end result could have been very different, however we offer no excuses and Rovers were ultimately good value for their win, albeit by a slightly closer margin than the eventual score line suggests. All in all it was a positive performance from my players and I believe that with a few additions to the squad this summer we can continue our progress and look to secure a top three finish. ”
Ewe Rams In Seventh Heaven Ahead Of Crunch Newcastle Game
Derby County Ladies go into this Sundays crunch Premier League home game with struggling Newcastle United buoyed by a second successive win and a place in next months Derbyshire County Cup final.
A Ewe Rams side featuring a number of Reserve and U18’s players still proved to be too strong for a gallant Pride Park side, with a hatrick from top scorer Melissa Johnson helping Derby to a comfortable 7-1 win.
Whilst happy with the performance and the opportunities that the game presented, manager, Stuart Wilson has stressed the need for his side to deliver a strong performance against the Magpies this weekend. ” Historically the county cup has afforded us the chance to take a good look at players either knocking or the door of the first team or coming back from injury and last weeks semi final with Pride Park was really useful in terms of trying a few things out and I was really impressed with some of the young players that we called up. We are of course delighted to have once again progressed through to the final however our focus is now very much on Newcastle. Our target at the start of the season was a top five league finish and with seven games to go we have to be picking up three points against the sides beneath us in the league in order to achieve that ”
Newcastle who up until recently were managed by former Leicester City striker, Trevor Benjamin started the season brightly, however a run of just two wins in the last eight has seen them drop to within seven points of the relegation zone, although Wilson is taking nothing for granted ” I’m sure that my opposite number Tom Butler will be slightly disappointed not to have pushed on a bit further after what was a disappointing season last time round, however his side have pushed some of the leagues better teams very close this season so i’ll be looking for my players to bring their A game to the table. Our recent win at Huddersfield halted a mini slump of our own, so we now need to push on from here and look to finish this season in the same positive vein as the last one. If we can do that then i’m confident that we’ll achieve our league objective ”
The 2pm kick off takes place at the Don Amott Arena, Mickleover, with entrance to all Derby County and Burton Albion season ticket holders free of charge.
DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL SEEN AS KEY TO FURTHER PROGRESS
With Derby County Ladies Derbyshire County Cup semi final game with Pride Park postponed and re-scheduled to take place this weekend, the break in fixtures allowed those within the club to take stock on the season to date and align it to targets set at the start of the season. In addition to that thoughts are already turning towards next season as the club look to press on with their ambitious plans to join the semi professional ranks of the Women’s Super league (WSL). According to Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, whilst huge strides have been made in a number of areas, the club needs to be mindful of its longer term thinking, and he sees certain similarities to recent developments widely reported in relation to the men’s arm of the club.
“ Off the field, it’s probably fair to say that things have progressed better than we hoped. We’ve relocated the clubs home ground to a venue that is of WSL standard and at the same time managed to remain within Derby, when at one stage it was thought that the club would most likely need to look further afield. We’ve improved the players training experience and have secured slightly more than we budgeted for more in terms of the vitally important external financial investment that an ambitious club operating at our level requires. In addition to that we targeted and subsequently secured two gates of over 500 fans for a second season in a row. We were also quietly hopeful of being named Premier League Club Of The Year at the seasons FA Awards, however having two of the clubs personnel shortlisted for further awards meant that in terms of recognition within the game, we have surpassed expectation.
On the field in terms of results, having improved our Premier League position year on year in each of the past three seasons, we set ourselves a top five goal at the outset of this season in order to maintain that upward trajectory. In addition to that we were looking for a successful cup run in one of the two national competitions. We currently sit fifth in the league, however we have played a couple more games than some of those around us, so we are going to need to finish quite strongly over the course of our remaining five fixtures in order to realise our league expectations. There isn’t a huge amount between the sides at the top, so it’s certainly within our gift to do so. In terms of the cup competitions we have to put our hands up and accept that we have fallen short in both the League and FA Cup, despite a somewhat unkind draw in the latter.
In terms of the wider club, Derby County Ladies have a clear and documented philosophy that embodies how we play our football and carry ourselves as a club. The phrase the ‘ Derby Way ‘ seems to be de rigeur within the media at the moment, however ours has been in place for three years now. Whilst our Academy Director, Dave Cholerton works with our coaches at junior level to ensure that our this is ingrained amongst our eight junior and one intermediate side, the loss of our former Director of Football, John Griffiths to the England set up at the start of last year means that we’ve lost the figure head who imbeds that at senior level. I feel for the coaches of our two senior sides, who have to some extent been left to their own devices and it’s a role that we are very keen to see filled certainly before next season.
With ourselves and Derby County Community Trust’s section now jointly applying for the licence for one of the FA’s Regional Talent Centres (RTC’s) that are due to be awarded this year, the future in terms of the number of female footballers that operate under the name Derby County couldn’t be any brighter. For us now the key is to ensure that we remain patient in terms of realising the benefits associated with that pathway of talent as well as continuing to ensure that those players that do make it through to the clubs senior sides enjoy the best possible player experience in terms of facilities, coaching and the level at which we operate.
By and large I feel that as we start to enter the business end of it, the season has been one of success to date. In addition to that we are clear on the areas where we need to improve and what we need to do in order to achieve that “
EWE RAMS BACK TO WINNING WAYS AS HUDDERSFIELD HIT FOR SIX
Following a disappointing run of recent results that had seen Ewe Rams drop from top spot to fifth in the Women’s Premier League ( WPL) as well as bow out of both the League and FA Cup, Stuart Wilsons side got back to winning ways in emphatic style with a 6-2 away victory at Huddersfield on Sunday.
A goal after just 27 seconds by Natalie Reay provided the perfect start for Derby, however goals from Ross and the league’s leading scorer, Emily Heckler saw Huddersfield take the initiative before Amy Pashley’s well placed drive from the edge of the box saw the sides go in level at the interval.
Both sides have been low on confidence in recent weeks, however goals from Reay and Aimee Perry saw Derby take the initiative, before a superb solo effort from top scorer, Mel Johnson on 76 minutes saw the game effectively killed as a contest. The rout was complete when substitute Ellie Towers was allowed time and space to slot home from close range four minutes from time.
Wilson who has been tasked by the club’s board to deliver a top five finish this season, was pleased with both the manner of the performance and the players response to recent disappointing results.
“ There is no getting away from the fact that our league form has been poor of late and last week’s performance at Preston was probably the worst we’ve seen since we came into the club a year ago. We’ve made a few changes and asked for a response, and the players have delivered. I thought the second half performance was particularly good, however it’s important that we now follow this result up with another one next week against Newcastle.
The league has started to take shape now and there are probably seven clubs vying for those top five places. The key to finishing amongst those is to take maximum points against the teams below and look to secure as many wins as possible against those in and around us “.
This week the Derby face a potential banana skin when they make the short trip to face Pride Park in the semi final of the Derbyshire County Cup that they currently hold. According to Wilson the tie provides an opportunity for the clubs Reserve players to make a case for first team inclusion. “ One of the clubs core philosophies is maximising organic growth and we have a proud tradition of growing our own. These games provide us with a chance to showcase and check on the development of some of our emerging talent and we’ll be doing just that “
CHANGES LIKELY FOR TERRIERS TRIP, AS EWE RAMS ARE THRASHED AT PRESTON
Derby County Ladies travel to Huddersfield Town in the Women’s Premier League this Sunday, hopeful of ending a run of poor results that has seen them go from surprise title challengers leaders to struggling to meet the clubs pre season expectations.
Last weekend Ewe Rams slumped to a hugely disappointing 7-1 loss away to table topping, Preston North End, which saw Stuart Wilson’s side extend their win less run in the league to four games. When added to early League and FA Cup exits over the Christmas and New Year period, Wilson accepts that things need to change sooner rather than later.
” This weekend marks our first anniversary at the club and for the first nine months we were delighted with how things were going. Less than eight weeks ago I was sat at Wembley stadium for the annual FA Awards as one of three shortlisted for the Manager Of The Year award. Moments like that are nice, however football is a game full of ups and downs. At the moment confidence is low and its a character testing time for both players and management. “
” Last summer the clubs Chief Executive and myself targeted a top five finish for this season which represents a third successive year of progression. We are currently in 5th place, however having been top for the best part of two months we are disappointed. The performance at Preston last week was very poor with individual errors costing us dearly. I’ll certainly be considering making a few changes, however my belief in the squad remains. A year ago this same group of players were staring down a barrel at relegation yet twelve months on we are sitting here talking about our disappointment at slipping down to 5th “
BUMPER CROWD WITNESSES SPIRITED DISPLAY AGAINST EVERTON
A crowd of just over 500 witnessed a spirited display by Stuart Wilsons young Derby side against Women’s Super League giants Everton at the Don Amott Leisure Group Arena on Thursday night.
The game marked the latest in a number of high profile friendly fixtures over the past two seasons that have seen Ewe Rams entertain both Arsenal (twice) and Liverpool, as the club looks to continue to raise awareness of the female arm of the club, at the same time as testing themselves against the games elite as part of their ambitious plans to secure promotion to the Super League themselves.
A full strength Everton side featuring a number of players from within the England set up, were somewhat fortuitous in taking a 4-0 lead by the 40th minute with Chantelle Boye- Hlorkah netting a hatrick, however a clinical finish from leading scorer Mel Johnson sent Derby into the break with a platform to build on.
Ewe Rams did just that, and further goals through Johnson and Natalie Reay brought the score back to 3-4 on the hour mark, however Manager, Wilson had indicated prior to the game that he would be changing the entire side at that point, with this weekend’s fixture at Preston in mind, and having brought on a number of teenage Reserve team players, Everton were able to capatalise and score a further three goals.
Despite the final result, Wilson was pleased with what he saw. “ Everton manager, Andy Spence agreed with me that at the hour mark a one goal deficit was a fair reflection of how the game had panned out. Having gained the momentum we could have gone in search of an equaliser and even a winner and with the crowd in full voice it would have been easy to have done that. However we have a big game at Preston on Sunday and when combined with the opportunity for our young reserve team players to experience playing in front of a large crowd and against national level players making the changes that we did was the right thing to do “
According to Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb the game ticked all the boxes that the club had in mind when they arranged it. “ We’ve seen a lot of new supporters come along tonight to see what we are about and we have another club operating at the top end of the game championing us as a club. Andy Spence was glowing in his praise of Derby as a club after the game and told me that in terms of how we operate off the pitch we will be a welcome addition to the WSL, whilst he was also very impressed by a number of our players. The key for us now is to continue to improve the squad at the same time as developing and reaping the benefits of our fantastic youth set up “
This Sunday Ewe Rams are back in Premier League action when they travel to league leaders, Preston. According to Stuart Wilson, the fixture provides an immediate opportunity to put right what he felt was a harsh exit from this seasons FA Cup competition. “ Three weeks ago we made the same trip in the cup and having bossed much of the game saw ourselves exit the competition to an injury time breakaway goal. The players were down at the time, however having had time to reflect on the performance if not the result, along with the first sixty minutes against Everton, we’ll go there in good spirits confident of getting something from the game “
TRICKY CUP TIE AHEAD FOR EWE RAMS FOLLOWING ALBION EXIT
Following a superb start to the season that saw Derby County Ladies top the Women’s Premier League just six weeks ago, Stuart Wilsons side slumped to their third successive defeat as they bowed out of the Premier League Cup following a 0-3 home loss to Sporting Albion.
All three goals came during a first half in which high winds and driving rain provided the visitors with a significant advantage, however despite being frustrated that the rain and wind had dispersed when then teams came out for the second half, Wilson had few complaints at the result. ” I think Albion will be the first to admit that the score was probably not a fair reflection of the game and that the winning of the toss was factor given the first half conditions, however in my view they were the hungrier side, gave little away at the back and were clinical in attack. These are all things that we ourselves were doing well during the latter part of last season and the earlier part of this one. As a group we have proved that we have these things in the locker and it’s up to us to find them sooner rather than later “
This week the side are in cup action again when they travel to league leaders, Preston in the FA Cup 2nd Round. Wilson acknowledges that the draw has not been kind to Ewe Rams however he feels that the players need to draw on their last trip to North Ends, Bamber Bridge ground. ” Given the number of teams that are left in the competition at this stage, most sides operating at our level will avoid Premier League sides until at least the 3rd or more likely 4th round. To pull one out of the hat at the first time of asking was unfortunate, for that game to be away to the league leaders is outright unlucky. That said the last time the two sides met was when we travelled there in the league back in March and we came away with a 3-2 victory that proved to be the catalyst to a superb finish to the season. We need to have that at the forefront of our thinking as opposed to the lost to Albion. “
Elsewhere the clubs Reserve side got back to winning ways in style as they defeated league leaders and arch rivals Nottingham Forest 3-2.
EWIE STEALS THE SHOW AT DERBY COUNTY LADIES CHILDRENS HOSPITAL VISIT
Thirty four players and officials from Derby County Ladies FC along with Paul Pounder from main club sponsor Microlise, visited the Derby Children’s Hospital on Sunday as part of the clubs much heralded community programme. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb the visit forms an integral part of the clubs commitment to developing its players as citizens as well as footballers.
“ This was the third year that we have undertaken the visit and the number of players that attend has grown year on year despite the occasion being quite a testing one. The players purchase all of the gifts themselves which we believe adds to their experience and we were delighted that Microlise not only asked if they could contribute by providing a number of DVD’s for the different wards but attend in person. I think it’s fair to say that it was a moving experience for Paul “
Joining the clubs delegation was recently revealed female DCFC mascot, Ewie who turned out to be something of a star attraction. “ This was Ewie’s first community engagement visit and suffice it to say she stole the limelight. It was fantastic to see the faces on the children when she appeared, however most of the nurses were hunting her down for selfies as news of her attendance spread ! “
The visit brought to an end what has been a hugely progressive year for the club, that saw them named as ‘ Premier League Club Of The Year ‘ at the recent annual FA Awards, and confirm that they have relocated to Mickleover Sports as part of the clubs ambitious plans to gain promotion to the Women’s Super League.
EWE RAMS ON THE MOVE
The latest jigsaw piece in Derby County Ladies ambitious plans to join the games elite was announced this week, with the club confirming that it will be relocating its two senior sides to Mickleover Sports from 2016.
Last month representatives from the club attended a Football Association workshop at St Georges Park aimed at clubs operating at the top end of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) who have ambitions to take the final step into the Women’s Super League (WSL), whilst earlier this month the club walked away from the annual FA Womens Awards at Wembley Stadium named as the ‘ Premier League Club Of The Year ‘. According to the clubs Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb both of these have strongly influenced the clubs decision to relocate from their current home at Borrowash Victoria’s, Anderson Electrical Arena.
” We attended the FA workshop with an open mind as to where we curently stood in terms of being accepted into the WSL, given that promotion to that level not only requires clubs to win the WPL it also requires them to have a number of on and off the field facilities and structures in place. As the day progressed it became quite apparent that as a club we ticked just about every box other than where we currently play our games, and tentative conversations at the end of the day confirmed that to be the case.
Two weeks later we walked away from Wembley with the games guardians (the Football Association ) having just deemed us to be the best operated club outside of the WSL, so our current thinking is that if we can meet the stringent ground requirements needed to gain admission to the WSL, then in theory if we can win the WPL we should be accepted for promotion. The deadline for WSL submission bids for next season is March 2016 so we have needed to act fast and ensure that we are operating at a ground that meets facility criteria.
Last season we invested £ 2,500 of our own money to fully refurbish and develop the home changing room at Borrowash despite being tenants, however a number of significant changes would need to be made to both the pitch and the grounds facilities for it to be considered for the WSL. Basically if we stay where we are then we won’t be considered. Mickleover Sports have those things in place and like ourselves they are a hugely ambitious club who are looking to progress from the level that they play at “
Whilst this latest development comes at the end of what has been a hugely progressive year for the club, they were saddened to learn of the passing of former player Leanna Day earlier this week to cancer at the age of just 33 years of age. According to Gibb, Day’s impact as a player has a bearing on where the club is today. ” Our club started out as a local parks side playing in the Burton and Derby area, so to be sat here talking about taking the final step to joining the games elite and being featured on TV each week shows just how far the club has come. Leanna was a prolific goalscorer in the days when we had progressed to regional level and without those goals and the impact of those who played for the club at that time, we wouldn’t have risen to operating at national level. She was very much part of the clubs DNA and her passing at such a young age is tragic. Our thoughts very much go out to her family and friends and we will be looking to honour Leanne’s memory and contribution to our journey in some way at our next home fixture in the new year.
EWE RAMS LOOKING TO BRING IN KEY PERSONEL TO BUILD ON RECENT SUCCESS
This weekend delegates from Derby County Ladies will travel to Wembley Stadium for the prestigious annual Womens FA Awards. Having been shortlisted for three of the evenings awards, on the back of success at last years event, the clubs significant on and off the field development is clearly being recognised by those that run the game. Whilst pleased to see that the clubs efforts are being noted, club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb feels that the club needs to kick on with its ambitious plans to join the games elite in the Womens Super League.
” Having established ourselves at Premier League level, we feel that the time is right to gear the club up for that final step in much the same way that the mens arm of the club are doing. If you look at Derby County they like us are operating a tier beneath the games top table, however in terms of playing and training facilities the club already have the things in place that those that operate at the level above have. The same can also be said of the clubs staffing structure both behind the scenes and the more visible coaching team element. To all intents and purposes its a Premier league operating at Championship level.
We have a strong Executive Board, however in the new year we will be looking to add up to three key roles to it, which if filled with the right people would certainly put us on par with those currently operating at WSL 2 level ” In terms of on the field support the club will be looking to recruit a Director of Football to oversee the senior arm of the club which currently consists of the First Team, Reserves and recently established Under18’s and Gibb is hopeful of repeating the success that the club has enjoyed since recruiting Dave Cholerton to the role of Academy Director last year.
” Dave oversees all of our sides from Under 10’s up to the Under 16’s and in laymans terms his tireless work allows the players to simply play, the coaches to simply coach and the parents to watch and enjoy. He does this by ensuring that the clubs operates at optimum level in terms of facility provision, talent identification, coaching development, player experience and parental expectation and we are now keen to mirror that at senior level ”
As part of their proposed structure expansion the club will also be looking to secure both a Commercial Director and Media & Communications Director to join the clubs board with a view to increasing both external investment and brand awareness. According to Gibb, these role holders will simply be asked to carry on the work that has been done over the past two years. ” We’ve done remarkably well over the past couple of seasons in terms of growing our club partner portfolio as well as improving our footprint in the city. Those that support not only the mens arm of the club but sport in general are aware of us through our extensive media work, whilst the business community have engaged with our ambition and in doing so have provided us with investment that has allowed us to improve our attractiveness as a club. This in turn has lead to us securing a highly regarded managment team and a number of talented players. We could wait for the hoped for promotion to the WSL to put these things in place, however like the mens arm of the club, we think the better route is to put those bricks in place now “
This Sunday the club will be hopeful that it will be third time lucky when they look to host Sporting Albion in the Premier League Cup, with the game having been postponed twice already. The 2pm kick off takes place at the clubs Anderson Arena Stadium, Borrowash.
EWE RAMS ON COURSE FOR SUPER LEAGUE
Derby County Ladies are close to being ready for the Women’s Super League (WSL) should they secure promotion through their league position, according to the clubs Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb.
The winners of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) secure promotion to the WSL providing they meet a comprehensive list of off the field criteria and last weekend Gibb along with club director, Richard Pope attended an FA meeting at St George’s Park that was held for clubs currently operating at Premier League level who have ambitions to join the female games elite. The Derby delegation came away from the meeting confident that much that the FA have identified as being required is already in place.
” I think it’s fair to say that a number of the other clubs that attended, went into the meeting with a degree of trepidation, whilst for us it was more a case of quiet anticipation. Back in March 2013 the club had seen a previous bid rejected for falling short in a number of areas however since then we have changed the whole dynamic of the club and our confidence seemed well founded, as over the course of the day we found that much of what the FA are looking for is already in place, and we have it within our gift to address the things where we might still need to improve “
During the meeting the FA outlined their expectations in terms of playing facilities, finance, partnerships, profile and media footprint, academy and club structure and Gibb feels that Derby have already either met or surpassed expectation in a number of areas.
As part of the event, Steve Allinson the Chairman of Yeovil Town delivered a session, given that his club are regarded as a best practice example at WSL2 level. In terms of financial stability, external investment and partnerships we appear to be on par with Yeovil already, whilst I would suggest that in terms of academy, club structure and profile we are if anything stronger than them ”
Clubs wishing to apply for WSL status have been asked to submit bids by the end of March, and Gibb has confirmed that Ewe Rams, who have been shortlisted for the Premier League ‘ Club Of The Year ‘ award at this years annual FA Awards in London, will be making a submission regardless of their league position at that time.
” We are in the mix with regards to the league title, however the likes of Forest, Stoke and Blackburn are as well and it may well be that we fall short in the ‘ on field ‘ part of the equation this season. However if that proves to be the case then by submitting a bid we will receive a clear indication from the FA as to how close our ‘ off field ‘ element is to receiving the green light should we eventually win the league “.
This Sunday Ewe Rams are in Premier League action when they make the short trip down the A50 to title rivals Stoke City. The game which kicks off at 2pm takes place at Stone’s, Wellbeing Park Stadium
Ewe Rams Knocked Off Top Spot By Stoke ‘ Finishing School ”
Derby County Ladies stay at the top of the Premier League proved short lived as visitors Stoke City provided a lesson to Ewe Rams in terms of finishing, inflicting their biggest loss of the season.
Derby have proved to be something of a surprise package in this years title race, whilst City were seen by many as pre-season favourites, and on the evidence of Sundays game at the Anderson Electrical Arena, it was easy to see why.
A physical game saw both sides go close in the early stages with Mel Johnson, Katie Lowder and Aimee Perry going closest for Ewe Rams before the visitors took the lead shortly prior to the interval, when a diagonal ball split the home defence and saw a clinical finish beat the impressive Sarah Morgan.
Derby showed excellent endeavour during the early stages of the second half, as first Johnson shot narrowly over, before Natasha Hughes and Lowder saw good chances go begging. However it was the Potters who took the initiative scoring a further two well worked goals on 70 and 75 minutes to wrap up what could prove to be a hugely valuable three points.
Despite the 0-3 score line being somewhat harsh, Rams Manager, Stuart Wilson felt the visitors were deserving of the points. ” Stoke are a physical side and I was pleased that we matched them on that front. There have been few chances across the 90 minutes however they have taken theirs and I thought that overall they were the better side today. We’ll take stock of things that we could have improved on and look to go again when we face what will be an equally big test at Sporting Albion this Sunday “
Ewe Rams have enjoyed good support to away games this season, and those intending to travel are advised that the game with the female arm of West Bromwich Albion takes place at Halesowen Town FC with kick off at 2pm
SEVEN GOAL THRILLER SEES EWE RAMS HIT PREMIER LEAGUE TOP SPOT
Derby County Ladies survived a sterling test of their title aspirations to go three points clear at the top of the Premier League (North) courtesy of a thrilling 4-3 home win over pre season favourites Blackburn Rovers.
Having lost the previous week to Bradford City, Ewe Rams were keen to stamp their authority on the game from the outset, however they found themselves a goal down within two minutes when a well take shot from the edge of the area gave keeper, Sarah Morgan no chance.
Ewe Rams were level on thirteen minutes when leading scorer Mel Johnson took advantage of a weighted Ellie Towers pass to neatly chipped the Rovers keeper, however the visitors restored their lead on the half hour mark with a close range effort following a free kick.
With two minutes to go to half time, it appeared that Derby would be trailing at the break, however Aimee Perry firstly nodded home from a corner, before Johnson took her tally to an impressive twelve for the season with a superb curling effort from distance with literally the last kick of the half.
The second half saw both teams go close before Perry slotted home following good work from Megan Tinsley, however with thirteen minutes to go Rover reduced the deficit to one and in doing so set up a nail biting finale, however despite a number of anxious moments, Stuart Wilson’s side held strong and in doing so moved three points clear of Sporting Albion. Speaking afterwards, Wilson was pleased with a number of aspects of the performance.
“ I was encouraged with both the energy and tempo showed by the players, however what pleased me most was the character shown by the players to come from behind on two occasions and the way in which the group game managed the fixtures in the latter stages. When I sat down with the Chief Executive in the summer to agree our targets for the season I identified, Rovers and Stoke City as the sides that I felt would most likely be challenging for the title. This was our first fixture against either of those sides, so to get off to a winning start in what is a group of four games is pleasing, however we now turn our attentions to the forthcoming and equally important visit of Loughborough. As with Blackburn we again won by the odd goal in seven when we visited them earlier in the season, however that was arguably one of our poorest performances of the campaign. I believe that we have grown as a team since then, so hopefully if we apply ourselves as we did on Sunday we will secure the desired outcome “
Picture below, goal scorers Mel Johnson (centre ) and Aimee Perry ( right ) at the recent unveiling of Ewie at the Ipro Stadium
Derby County Ladies FC Land ‘ Club Of The Year ‘ Award
Derby County Ladies FC have been named ‘ Club Of The Year ‘ in the annual Derby City awards for 2015. According to club Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb, the award is not only welcomed by the club, but fully deserved.
“ Anyone familiar with the Derby sports scene will know that there are a number of superbly run clubs who’s input and outcomes are far more encompassing than simply what happens on the field or court of play, so to be recognised as the best of a great bunch is something that we take a great deal of pride in.
As a club we undertake a huge amount of community work within Derby and the surrounding area, not just in terms of raising awareness of the female game, but in terms of putting a bit back into the community and improving the citizenship skills of our players. When players experience the realities of a children’s hospital at first hand, or spend three hours at a home for the elderly interacting with the residents, it improves them as people not just as players, It’s a small part of what we do, but it’s also a big part of what we are about “
As a result of the award, the club now go through to the Derbyshire County awards where their nomination will be considered against clubs from as far afield as Glossop in the North to Melbourne and Swadlincote in the South.
BIG GUNS COMING TO DERBY AS EWE RAMS CELEBRATE 25 YEARS
The recent attraction of just under 50,000 spectators to a non competitive international fixture between England and Germany provided further evidence that the star of women’s football has never been brighter. Therefore the announcement this week that Derby County Ladies have managed to secure not one, but two prestige home fixtures next month against Liverpool and Arsenal sides regarded as being among the biggest names in European football, is seen by Chief Executive, Duncan Gibb as timely.
“ The club celebrates it’s 25th anniversary this year and coupled with the fact that more and more supporters of the male game are showing an interest in women’s football we felt that this was an ideal opportunity to pull out all of the stops with a view to showcasing the very best players in the country, to what we believe is an interested and at the same time curious Derby public. We have worked tirelessly over the past year building up our profile both locally through the media and nationally networking within the game and as part of this have managed to forge a strong link with Arsenal. The Gunners are still regarded as the biggest name in the female game with England players such as Kelly Smith, Casey Stoney and Rachel Yankey all household names, and they were keen to help us celebrate our quarter of a century landmark.
Having secured commitment from Arsenal I approached reigning Women’s Super League champions, Liverpool and suggested that a fixture with us might provide a competitive pre-season work out as part of their preparations for the 2015 summer WSL campaign as they look to make it a hat trick of successive league titles. Reds Manager, Matt Beard was good enough to ring me in person saying that he’d heard really good things about Derby and that he’d be happy to bring a first team squad down that contains Fara Williams, the most capped England international footballer ever who was also recently shortlisted for the Sports Personality of the year award.
In terms of the appeal of the game Gibb feels that the games will attract support for a variety of reasons. On one hand we have received strong indication that a number of local women’s sides and schools where girls get to play the game will be in attendance with a view to getting the chance to watch players that they aspire to be in the flesh, whilst on the other hand we are hopeful that football fans and families that have perhaps watched the odd game or two on the TV will think to themselves “ Those players that I saw are on my own doorstep tonight, it’s a Wednesday night, i’ve little or nothing on, lets go down and have a look first hand “.
From the clubs perspective the picture is much wider as they works towards games such as these becoming the norm as opposed to once a year showcases. “ It’s been well documented that our aim is to become a WSL club ourselves and whilst we have much to do to bring that to fruition we are closer than we were a year ago and will be closer still in a year’s time. Securing games like this are all part of that journey however as with the male arm of the club we don’t want to be playing the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool now and then, we want to be playing them as equals “ said Gibb.
The games which will take place on 4th February ( Liverpool ) and 25th February ( Arsenal ) will be held at the Anderson Electrical Arena, both kicking off at 7-30pm. In order to attract as many fans as possible prices have been set at just £ 2 for Adults and £ 1 for Under 16’s with those presenting a Derby County season ticket card gaining free admission.
Sheila Rollinson Wins Outstanding Contribution To Football National Award
Sheila Rollinson – Outstanding Contribution To Women’s Football Award
Derby County Ladies FC, Secretary, Sheila Rollinson’s 25 year contribution to the women’s game was formally acknowledged at the Football Association’s recent annual women’s awards held at Madame Tussards in London, when she picked up the final and main award of the night for ‘ Outstanding Contribution To Women’s Football ‘
During that time Sheila has played a pivotal role in a journey that has seen Derby County Ladies grow from a single parks side to an established and thriving FAW Premier League club with two senior and seven junior sides.
Away from club level Sheila has filled a number of voluntary roles both regionally and nationally with the England national side, that have assisted in the development of the women’s game to it’s current standing as the 3rd most participated sport in the UK after men’s football and rugby, with analysts predicting that it will overtake the latter within the next five years.
Derby County Ladies were also shortlisted for the highly prestigious ‘ FA Premier League Club Of The Year ‘ award with the clubs community engagement, media profile development and external investment growth being highlighted as areas that have been significantly developed over the past 12 months.
Sheila’s joins us as the clubs Guest Of Honour tonight, whilst a number of the clubs senior players will welcome the two sides onto the pitch as flag bearers.
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