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