Substitute Kira Rai’s double completed Derby County Women’s comeback to secure a 4-2 victory against Liverpool Feds to remain unbeaten in 2023.
The Ewe Rams had to come from behind to earn a well-fought victory with a brace coming late on from Rai adding to Emelia Wilson and Ella Hilliard’s goals to earn all three points and make it three successive wins.
The victory sees Sam Griffiths’ side move up the table into third place ahead of Burnley who have three games in hand.
Ewes Rams’ top-scorer Amy Sims had the first real chance of the game, but her right-footed effort was tame as it comfortably rolled into the hands of Rachel Darbyshire.
The deadlock was broken in the 18th minute when Derby took the lead, despite a cagey start to the game. Jess Camwell fired a cross into the area which was met by Wilson to nod home from close range.
The Ewe Rams were not ahead for long though, as four minutes later Liverpool Feds found the equaliser from Donoghue’s powerful volley leaving Imogen Maguire stranded.
Minutes later, Maguire was called into action to deny Feds a second with an acrobatic fingertip save after Emily Joyce lost the ball in the middle of the park.
A longball over the top saw Derby’s highline come undone and concede a second in the 37th minute. Feds captain Chantelle Thompson latched onto the end of a lofted pass to lift the ball over Maguire and into the back of the net.
It took until the 58th minute for Derby to really trouble Darbyshire’s goal as Joyce was unfortunate to see her half-volley from outside the area crash against the crossbar.
Despite not creating too many chances, Derby did find the equaliser from a corner as Hilliard scored her first league goal of the season with a well-placed header.
Derby almost conceded with just five minutes left as a goalmouth scramble saw the ball cleared off the line multiple times before eventually being cleared to safety.
Substitute Rai restored the Ewe Rams lead in the 86th minute, as she made her first appearance of 2023 following a recent lay-off.
Rai found herself one-on-one with the onrushing Darbyshire who made herself big to deny the first effort, however the ball rebounded back to the Derby midfielder to calmly finish the second time of asking.
Two minutes later, Rai added her second of the game to secure all three points for the Ewe Rams.
A longball was played up-field to Rai who confidently brought the ball down before slotting past Darbyshire once again and into the bottom corner.
Darbyshire; James, Kingvig-Wardale, Jukes; Seagraves, Thompson, Farley (63), Dykes, Cole; Donoghue, Thomas.
Subs: Fletcher (63), Devereaux, Little, Viagas.
Derby County Women
Maguire; Jenkins, Clarkson, Hilliard; McGrother (78), Joyce, Sutherland (78), Barry (64); Camwell, Sims, Wilson.
Subs: Morgan, Rai (78), Rhodes- Andrews (78), Gaspar (64)