Derby County Women finished the season in emphatic fashion as the Ewes put on a five-star display, and Amy Sims bagged her 18th goal of the campaign to secure a 5-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at the Don Amott Arena.
The Ewes came into the game off the back of six games without a win, and Sam Griffiths' side were looking to end the season on a high, having already secured fourth place in the FA WNL Northern Premier Division last weekend. And they certainly did.
Finishes from Sims, Anita Gaspar, Kira Rai, Marli Rhodes-Andrews and Jess Camwell, who delivered the fifth and final blow to the Baggies in the 74th minute, ensured Derby romped to victory despite two penalty saves by former Ewe Ram Charlotte Clarke in between the sticks for West Brom.
After a quiet start to the match, the Ewes were the side to eventually take the initiative. Gaspar opened Derby’s account in the 23rd minute as she found her way through the mass of players assembled in the box after a corner kick and was able to poke the ball into the back of the net.
Derby upped the ante after the first goal, as they threatened once more; Rhodes-Andrews was played into space from a lobbed through ball, but West Brom defender Ellie McFarlane blocked her shot to deny the Ewes the goal their momentum richly deserved.
Some exquisite interplay between Sims and Rhodes-Andrews saw the Ewes double their lead after the half-hour mark. Sims' back heel on the turn unlocked the defence, and Rhodes-Andrews' return pass took the goalkeeper out of the equation for the Ewes leading scorer to add another to her tally.
The Ewes attack didn’t dull going into the second period either, as substitute Kira Rai was felled in the penalty area during the first knocking of the half after a burst into the box. But Sims was denied from the spot by goalkeeper Clarke in the West Brom goal.
Rai netted the resulting corner, though, hooking her leg around the ball as it bounced in the six-yard box.
Rhodes-Andrews then bettered her earlier assist with a goal of her own; Camwell played the winger into space - one-on-one with the keeper - where she calmly slotted the ball down low and past the grasp of Clarke in the Baggies’ net.
The visitor's deadliest threat looked to be from range, as Maria Timms fired a stinging shot towards the top corner in the 72nd minute, but substitute stopper Sarah Morgan was equal to her strike and parried the ball away from danger.
Camwell capped off the display and made certain the result only two minutes later with a slick side-footed effort from the edge of the box, which glided past the fingertips of the Baggies stopper - her seventh of the campaign.
Rai secured a second penalty for Derby with ten minutes to go as she burst into the box and was tripped by a group of Baggies defenders. But once again, Clarke was equal to the spot kick, denying Wilson a place on the already busy scoresheet.
The result sees Sam Griffith’s side finish seven points ahead of the chasing pack, as firmly the ‘best of the rest’ in the league.
Derby County Women: Maguire (GK) (Morgan 45’), Jackson, Clarkson, Ward, Joyce, Sutherland, Wilson, Sims, McGrother, Gaspar, Rhodes-Andrews.
No unused substitutes.
West Bromwich Albion Women: Clarke (GK), McFarlane, Loydon (Embley 55’), Bennett-Steele, Dudley-Jones, Crackle, Tudor (Evans 55’), Stamps, Timms, Warner (Walklett 65’), Mahmood (Straker 65’).
Unused Substitutes: Miller (GK).
Words by Alfie Dickin