Derby County Women returned to action with a victory following the winter break, as they defeated Loughborough Lightning 2-1 in their first game of 2023.
The Ewe Rams ensured lightning did not strike as they defeated Loughborough for the second time this season following their commanding 5-0 victory in the reverse fixture back in August.
Amy Sims scored her third goal against Loughborough this season after netting twice in the reverse fixture, before Emily Joyce secured victory for the Ewe Rams with her deflected effort from range, despite Sarah Jackson’s late own goal.
A quiet first-half saw only a handful of chances for both sides with the Ewe Rams creating the better of the two.
Just four minutes into the game Emelia Wilson had an opportunity to instantly strike against the hosts when the ball bobbled to her inside the area, but her effort was straight at Kiya Webb in the Loughborough goal.
Becky McGrother won a free-kick on the edge of the area after being fouled in the seventh minute. Jess Camwell took responsibility but could only fire wide of the goal.
It took a while for the next clearcut chance to arise which eventually came when a scramble in the Derby penalty area happened in the 28th minute. Good defending by Ella Hilliard to clear the ball away, denied Lightning the opener.
Moments later, the best chance of the half came in the way of Sims. She went bursting through on the counter-attack, but her initial effort was saved, before her follow up curled just wide of the far post.
Sims had another chance to put the Ewe Rams ahead in the 40th minute, yet again she was denied by the outstretched Webb which seemed to be a regular occurrence throughout the first-half.
The game sprung to life in the second-half with Webb continuing to impress in the opposition goal as she denied Wilson and Emily Joyce with two terrific stops in the 51st minute to keep the scores level.
Eventually the deadlock was broken as Derby took the lead in the 55th minute of the game. Webb was finally beaten despite getting a hand to Sims’ strike which nestled into the bottom right-corner of the goal.
Derby doubled their lead in the 68th minute. Joyce tried her luck from 25-yards, which took a massive deflection off a Loughborough defender before looping over a helpless Webb into the roof of her net.
Sims was denied her second of the game as she connected well with a half-volley, but an excellent save by the Loughborough keeper kept out her effort.
In the 84th minute Sims was denied once more by Webb, who put in a strong performance to ensure her side did not concede more than twice.
Loughborough did find a consolation goal in the 93rd minute of the game as Sarah Jackson was unfortunate to slide the ball into her own goal.
The victory sets up next Sunday’s clash with Stoke City Women at the Don Amott Arena, with the Ewe Rams returning home for the first time this year.
Webb; Walters, Taft, Wild-Goose, Hateley; Hines, Johnson (85), Greenwood (80); Russell (65), Powell, Stevens.
Subs: Harper, Strauss (85), Sharpe, Middleton (65), Richardson (80).
Derby County Women
Maguire; Ward (C), Jackson, Hilliard; Jenkins (71), Joyce, Sutherland, McGrother (61); Camwell (56), Sims, Wilson.
Subs: Morgan, Clarkson, Gaspar (61), Barry (56), Rhodes-Andrews (71).
BY MITCH BARWELL UOD JOURNALIST