Isabel Sheridan scored a hat-trick as Derby County Women’s development side continued their unbeaten league start with a 6-2 win away at Loughborough Lightning.
Sheridan’s three goals were sealed shortly after half-time as the Ewes move onto seven points from three games in the FA Women’s National League Reserve Midland League.
There were also goals for Iesha Rollins, Laura Monk and Paris Mallon on an afternoon where Derby were in control from start to finish.
The Ewes, with injured defender Isabella Galley watching on in crutches, started off brightly with Amelia Towers winning a free-kick after bursting past Chloe Robinson.
Moments later, Sheridan was close to latching onto an exquisite pass from Laila Abadi, before Abadi herself had an effort saved unorthodoxly by Lightning goalkeeper Sam Abbott.
Derby then went in front through Sheridan. Monk played a near-perfect pass for Towers down the left, her low cross was parried out by Abbott, but Sheridan was on hand to slam home the rebound.
The visitors continued to threaten within moments of the restart. Otter with some neat footwork to poke it through for Sheridan, but her near-post effort crashed against the post. The offside flag was up in any case.
But Sheridan wasn’t waiting much longer to notch her second of the afternoon. Eleanor Humphrey’s audacious effort from range was excellently tipped onto the crossbar by Abbott, only for Towers to have her strike saved and Sheridan to eventually tap home.
Monk struck into the arms of the goalkeeper then Otter went close from the edge of the area as Derby were in complete control.
But, against the run of play, Loughborough pulled one back when Millie Quaintance, looking the biggest threat for the hosts, slammed home the rebound after Steph Heck’s free-kick was saved by Lola Smith.
Derby had the woodwork to thank almost instantly when Erica Thacker’s strike from an acute angle cannoned off the upright.
The Ewes rode a brief storm, largely helped by Sasha Brassington, who made a series of blocks and challenges to keep the lead intact.
Sheridan had two bites at the cherry to top off a first half hat-trick before Smith held well from Quaintance at the other end as Derby went in ahead at the break.
The Young Ewes raced into command at the start of the second half with two quickfire goals. First, Otter’s corner was slammed home by Rollins before Sheridan completed her hat-trick at the second attempt after rounding the goalkeeper within a minute of the resumption.
Alex Owens was required to clear the danger after Loughborough substitute Milly Wortley’s effort was beyond Smith.
The Derby fifth came on the hour mark. Monk kept her composure to calmly slot home into the far post after being played through one-on-one.
Smith was called into action shortly after and was efficient in doing so. A near-post save from Amelie Johnson was followed by a smart double save from Quaintance and Indiana Totty. Towers cleared the danger at the back post.
Lightning did get one back, though, when Quaintance latched onto Wortley’s pass to score.
The Ewes were denied a certain goal on 80 minutes when Towers did well to round Abbott in the Loughborough goal, but a sublime last-ditch challenge from Alice Wood kept the score at 5-2.
The Ewes wrapped up a fine performance late on with their sixth goal of the game. Otter’s long-range strike was saved by Abbott into the path of substitute Mallon, who had the simple task of tapping into the empty net.
Derby’s development side are in action again next Sunday when they travel to Stoke City.
Derby County: Smith, Brassington, Owens, Harding (Newton), A. Towers (Goodwin), Rollins (Barnes), Otter, Abadi (M. Towers), Monk, Sheridan (Mallon), Humphrey.
By Kallum Brisset, UOD, Sports Journalist