Becky McGrother’s late equaliser secured a point for Derby County Women in West Yorkshire as they held against Huddersfield Town to a 3-3 draw at the Stafflex Arena.
Goals from Kira Rai and Amy Sims saw Derby get off to a blazing start. But a speedy reply that saw Hannah Ward’s attempted clearance head into her own net, a 65th-minute goal by Yasmin Mason, and a Brittany Sanderson strike denied the Ewes all three points.
The momentum swung in the host’s favour in the second half, and they looked to have made a comeback and won the game, but Marli Rhodes-Andrews squared the ball to McGrother in added time to give the Ewe’s a point on the road.
A flurry of chances saw a rapid start for Derby. Rai opened the scoring after five minutes as McGrother beat her opposite number convincingly to make space for a cross. Emelia Wilson flicked a pass that found Rai in space just inside the box, who hammered the ball into the back of the net.
Sims reinforced the lead in the tenth minute to continue her goalscoring exploits for the season with a header inside a crowded penalty box that flew past the goalkeeper’s fingers.
Huddersfield scored only moments later, as the home side applied pressure to half the deficit and ensure the game did not get away from them.
Mason caught the Ewe Rams high up the pitch with an interception, and Sarah Morgan found herself off the goal line; the Terriers winger chipped over the Ewes’ stopper as Ward attempted to clear the ball but could not stop an inevitable goal.
Derby’s primary catalyst in the attack was McGrother, who had more joy down the wing in the 30th minute; after swapping sides with Rai, she once again beat her opposite number, but the resulting shot dragged just wide.
She was denied in the 39th minute, with a strike from 25 yards that forced an athletic save by Terriers’ stopper Abi Megeary, who got her fingertips to the fizzing ball to tip it over the crossbar.
The hosts took the initiative in the second half, with the first real chance coming courtesy of Huddersfield’s Katie Mallin, who met Mason’s cross at the far post, but Morgan was once again equal to it.
Derby’s first involvement came through a wayward strike by Wilson after some hard work from Rai dispossessed the opposition.
But a swing in momentum eventually told for the Ewes in the 63rd minute, as Mason put the home side level. She muscled off multiple Ewes defenders on the left channel to get a stinging shot away from the edge of the box that Morgan could not keep out.
The hosts took the lead in the 84th minute, as substitute Katie Stanley found herself adjacent to an onrushing Sanderson inside the penalty area, who looked to have resolutely finished off Derby.
But McGrother pounced at the death and saw the Ewes get another gritty draw on the road.
A draw leaves the Ewe Rams fourth in the FA WNL Northern Premier League and return to action at the Don Amott Arena on Sunday, 30 April, for their final game of the season against West Bromwich Albion.
Derby County Women: Morgan (GK), Ward, Jackson (Rhodes-Andrews 52’), Hilliard, Joyce, Sutherland, Wilson, McGrother, Sims, Rai, Camwell (Gaspar 64’).
Unused Subs: Maguire (GK), Clarkson, Jenkins.
Huddersfield Town Women: Megeary (GK), Stanfield, Ibbotson, Mallin (Stanley 81’), Fields, Montgomery, Sanderson, Housley, Mason (Dill 90’), Heslam, Fletcher (Hulme 90’).
Unused Subs: Joyce (GK), Sumaili.
Words by Alfie Dickin