In a clash that certainly provided the drama you would expect of a local derby, it was Derby County that deservedly took the spoils to gain East Midlands bragging rights for a second time this season.
The Ewe Rams made use of their dominance as Sherry McCue converted from the spot in the 16th minute, a goal that proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Forest had the opportunity to level with a penalty awarded after Megan Tinsley was shown red for handling the ball on the line. Gianna Mitchell stepped forward for the Reds, but her effort was blazed over the bar much to the relief of the home fans in support at Pride Park.
The three points will help Derby County consolidate their position as second in the FA Women’s National League Northern Division for the time being. Across the M1, Forest will be left looking over their shoulder whilst currently retaining their fourth place despite the loss.
The occasion attracted strong support from home and away fans alike, with a hubbub of excitement converging onto the concourse of Pride Park prior to kick-off. Black and white flags were waved along the side of the pitch as the players lined up facing fans full of expectation.
From the outset Derby County looked the more dangerous of the two sides and remained dominant throughout the first half. The host’s captain, Amy Sims, posed a threat from right-back with a number of early overlapping runs and was unlucky not to get an assist on 10 minutes when Ellie Gilliatt fired over the crossbar from another of her crosses.
It was in the 16th minute that Derby were able to put this dominance to effect after a cross from Gilliatt caused panic in the box for the Reds, resulting in a trip on Emily Joyce inside the box. Referee Guy Thrower pointed straight to the spot, penalty.
From here, McCue made no mistake as she calmly slotted the ball low into the right-hand corner. She wheeled away in celebration with arms aloft and shirt overhead towards the home fans to celebrate this moment in unison.
Forest remained unable to pose any sizeable threat in the remainder of the first half. Chants of ‘Der-by, Der-by!’ rang out around Pride Park as the half-time whistle blew and the Ewe Rams certainly deserved to be ahead as they entered the dressing room.
Whilst Derby looked to maintain this control in the opening exchanges of the second half, Forest were provided with a route back into the game on the 52nd minute. A shot curled from the left side of the box by Naomi Powell looked set to provide an equaliser for the Trees before Tinsley saved it on the line with her hand.
For this offence, she saw straight red, and the visitors had a chance to level from the spot. A nervy run up from Mitchell translated into a penalty blasted into the stands behind and meant Derby retained their lead.
The ball being taken to the corner flag in the 67th minute by Derby set the tone for the rest of the game as the 10-player hosts looked to protect their lead. The match lost some of its spark, though the desire remained from both teams with a number of players going into the book.
Forest had spells of possession and caused some nervy moments for the home side but never looked destined to produce an equaliser despite their numerical advantage.
It was, in fact, Derby County who had the more threatening chances in the closing stages. Substitute Sophie Domingo made the most of breakaways and surged forward twice in two minutes but was each time outnumbered by Forest defenders.
The 88th minute saw the most promising chance as Domingo was put through by Sims and was this time provided with support by Emelia Wilson. Though, receiving the ball square from Domingo, Wilson was only able to aim a weak shot straight at the keeper.
It was not to matter, however, as the whistle blew for full-time with the score 1-0 to Derby County. The relief was apparent for the whole team as an embattled display saw the players punch the air in celebration to rapturous applause and shouts from the onlooking supporters.
Pride Park witnessed a dominant performance from the Ewe Rams as they yet again claimed victory in the East Midlands derby.