The Derby County FC Women Under 20s experienced cup-final heartbreak at the hands of Chesterfield Ladies FC in the lottery of a penalty shootout at Long Eaton United’s Grange Park.
The Ewe Rams battled hard against a strong Chesterfield team, but they would miss out on adding a ninth Derbyshire Senior Women’s Cup to the trophy cabinet.
Derby would open the scoring with barely two minutes on the clock when Iesha Rollins laid the ball to Isabel Sheridan on the edge of the 18-yard box, which gave her the opportunity to rocket the ball past goalkeeper Nic Watson into the top-right corner and make it 1-0.
Rollins would find herself through on goal after a long ball from deep bounced perfectly for the forward, but the strong hands of Watson well thwarted her attempt to chip the goalkeeper; shouts roared from the black-and-white portion of the crowd that the Chesterfield shot-stopper was outside her area, but the referee saw no wrong-doing.
Chesterfield would find an equaliser after the Ewes failed to clear their lines from a set piece. A free-kick looped into the box for Lola Smith to punch away, with the ball landing to Hannah Bailor on the right-hand side of the area, who crossed towards captain Millie Standen whose toe-poke trickled across the line for 1-1.
Neither side finished the half with any clear-cut chances, with neither Chesterfield nor Derby able to cut through their opposing defences with any passes of quality with the cup-final mentality of keeping your defence impenetrable settling into both teams.
Both finalists were pushing for the goal to put them ahead at the beginning of the first half, with Chesterfield coming closest when Pashley headed wide from an inswinging cross to the relief of Dan Dobrzycki’s side.
Holly Otter thought she had grabbed a crucial goal for Derby after Laura Monk picked the pocket of Louisa Anderson, allowing the midfielder to pass across the face of the goal to find Otter running in, but the resulting shot could only cannon off Kel Fidler’s head, leading to a stoppage in play.
Chesterfield had two fantastic chances back-to-back to put the Blues ahead when Bailor found a free header in the six-yard box, but her effort could only safely land into the gloves of Lola Smith before Georgina Williams muscled herself into a one-on-one against Smith, but her placed shot could only roll just-wide of the post.
Sarah Owens released a cross-turned-shot from 25 yards out that almost snuck into the bottom left corner, but Watson was wise to the change in direction and turned the ball past the post to put it out for a corner kick.
The Blues almost won it in stoppage time when Smith’s clearance was miskicked to the feet of Sophie Marshall, but her shot one-on-one slowly rolled past the post to the relief of the Derby bench, meaning the tie would have to be decided from 12 yards.
Chesterfield would come out victors from the spot-kicks when despite Lola Smith saving the first penalty she faced, the Ewe Rams missed three consecutive penalties from 2-2, meaning they would lose out on lifting the County Cup to their opponents.
Dobrzycki’s side will look to pick themselves back up as they look to win the FAWNL Midlands Division as they travel to A52 rivals Nottingham Forest at the Halbrooke Stadium next Sunday in what can only be described as a title six-pointer.
Words by Riley Somerville