Derby County bagged their fifth win in a row as they continued their unbeaten start to 2023 at the Emery’s Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent.
Stoke City Women were on the back of securing their first league win of the year last weekend and took the lead just before the hour mark through Kelsey Richardson.
However, the Ewe Rams had shown more than enough to deserve all three points and came from behind courtesy of goals from substitute Camille Jenkins and Emily Joyce.
Derby started the brighter of the two teams and were putting the ball into dangerous areas but Stoke were comfortably dealing with the early pressure from the away side.
Inside the opening 10 minutes, Amy Sims came close with a good effort after intercepting Stoke’s Richardson in the middle of the park but ‘keeper Liz Hobson got down well.
Then, Sims played in Jessica Camwell after picking up a loose Stoke ball. Camwell got her shot away from a tight angle, but perhaps the better option would have been cutting it back to the supporting Emelia Wilson, but instead Hobson was called into action once more.
Camwell’s loose play when coming deep, allowed Kelsey Richardson to pinch the ball, sending it out wide to Roisin Kivel. The skilful Kivel knocked it past Derby skipper Hannah Ward, but her cross landed safely in Imogen Maguire’s hands.
Sims was in full confidence after scoring her 15th goal of the season against AFC Fylde Women last weekend but could not find the back of the net following a short corner move between Camwell and Anita Gaspar.
Stoke were forced to bring off Left-Back, Hollie Gibson just before the half hour point following a clash with Becky McGrother.
McGrother epitomised Derby’s direct display and gave both Stoke full-backs a torrid time but nothing was quite coming off for the former Coventry United winger.
Richardson got hold of the ball in a dangerous place, catching out Wilson. She played in Kivel but Ward prevented her getting her shot away, laying it back to Richardson who’s first time strike bounced off the crossbar.
On the brink of half-time, Sims beat the high Stoke line and got on the end of Sarah Jackson’s long ball forward but could only direct her shot on goal over the bar, ensuring the first 45 minutes ended goalless.
The second half, started in a similar vein to the first and it was once more a long ball forward from Jackson, this time finding McGrother running through the middle but the on-rushing Hobson did just enough to put the winger off as her effort hit the outside of the post.
Despite all the Derby possession, the hosts were finding answers to anything Sam Griffiths’ side threw at them, and the Ewe Rams soon found themselves behind against the run of play.
Following a swift Stoke counter down the left, tricky winger Kivel powered her way forward, cutting it back to Richardson whose first touch took it onto her left and her strike on goal was too powerful for Maguire.
Now trailing, Griffiths called upon her bench as Kira Rai and Camille Jenkins replaced McGrother and Gaspar.
This proved to be an inspired change as Camwell picked out Rai down the left, who eased past right-back Sophie Thompson and drilled the ball across the Stoke goal for fellow sub Camille Jenkins to fire home.
From scoring one down one end to preventing one down the other, Jenkins denied a certain goal as she cleared away Naomi Bedeau’s looping header from a Stoke City free kick.
Marli Rhodes-Andrews came on for Megan Clarkson, and she battled well down the right flank, finding Sims whose initial effort was cleared but the ball fell kindly to Camwell who miskicked her effort, with the ball landing on the roof of the net.
Derby did find the winner though with six minutes remaining as a ball over the top was won in the air by Sims and the flick-on was latched onto by Joyce and stabbed it past Hobson and found the bottom corner.
The win puts Derby into second place in the FA Women’s National League North, only behind Nottingham Forest who they play at Pride Park on the 26th of March, with tickets available now at dcfc.co.uk.
Stoke City Women:
Hobson, Thompson, Gibson (Miszkiel 28’), Bedeau, Holder, Woodbyrne (McCann, 86), Bramford, Richardson, Axten (Delle, 74), Kivel, Jones (Wilshaw, 86).
Derby County Women:
Maguire, Ward (C), Jackson, Clarkson (Rhodes-Andrews, 71), Sutherland, Joyce, Sims, Wilson, Camwell, McGrother (Rai, 58), Gaspar (Jenkins, 58).
Unused Subs: Morgan.
By Barnaby Rostant.