Derby County Women started their 2023/24 FA Women's National League Northern Premier Division season with a 2-1 loss against promotion hopefuls Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

Derby trailed 2-0 at the break, with Ellie Wilson and Amber Hughes scoring for the visitors, but they produced a strong display in the second half and Molly Sutherland pulled a goal back on the hour.

Despite pushing for a leveller, the Ewes were unable to avoid defeat on the opening day of the campaign at the Don Amott Arena in Mickleover.

“We Pushed One Of The Top Teams All The Way” - Griffiths

Manager Sam Griffiths was full of praise for her young side against one of the sides tipped to be competing at the very top of the table this term.

Griffiths, who led the Rams to a fourth-place finish in the 2022/23 season, felt Derby offered plenty of positive signs in their performance.

“I’m really proud of them (the players),” Griffiths said after the game. “We’re disappointed with the result because no-one enjoys losing but, especially the second half performance, I couldn’t have asked for any more from the group.

“We wanted to measure ourselves in this game and see where we are at. We pushed one of the top teams, who have been dominant in our league for the last few years, all the way.

“I think we were a little bit nervous in the first half. We were so front-foot and positive in pre-season and I believe we had a few nerves early on, but we grew into the game and in the second half we were where I want us to be at.

“I would’ve liked to have created a bit more given we had so much of the ball in their half, but overall it was a really positive performance against a top team. We’ve got plenty to build on.”

“We Need To Take The Positives And Push On” - McGrother

Versatile performer Becky McGrother filled in at left-back with Megan Tinsley unavailable and she produced an impressive display.

The 25-year-old drove forward on several occasions in the second half as the Ewes went on the attack in search of a leveller.

Despite the defeat, McGrother felt there were plenty of encouraging moments to indicate Derby can enjoy a positive season on the pitch once again.

“It’s a tough one to take in the first game of the season,” McGrother said. “I think we started well but then we dropped off a bit and conceded the two goals.

“We came out all guns blazing in the second half and we deserved to get a goal back. It is just disappointing that we couldn’t get another for an equaliser.

“We know we can compete against the top teams and we showed that. We need to take those positives into next week and push on.”