Derby County Women tasted a narrow 2-1 defeat on the road against FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division leaders Newcastle United on Sunday.

Derby trailed 2-0 at half-time courtesy of goals from Beth Lumsden and Paige Bailey-Gayle for the hosts.

Sam Griffiths’ side stayed in the game and eventually pulled a goal back with six minutes of normal time remaining through Eleanor Ashton from the penalty spot.

That goal sparked a late spell of pressure with Becky May and Kira Rai both going agonisingly close to equalising in the final moments.

Despite the defeat, the Ewes’ display against a full-time outfit provided plenty of positives to build on in the weeks and months ahead.

Next up for the Ewes is a trip to Exeter City on Sunday 25th February (2pm kick-off) in the Semi-Finals of the FA Women's National League Plate, while they return to league action on Sunday 3rd March with a home clash against Burnley (2pm kick-off).

“We Pushed The Leaders All The Way” - Griffiths

Manager Sam Griffiths was full of praise for her players for pushing the league leaders all the way.

Griffiths admitted conceding early on was a less than ideal start, but she was delighted with the resilience on display from the Ewes to force their way back into the contest.

The Derby boss felt the fact Newcastle were desperate for the final whistle to be blown highlighted how well the Ewes had performed.

She said: “There’s no disappointment from me at all; I am pleased with the performance and I cannot fault the girls.

“We knew this was going to be tough, coming to the league leaders and a full-time outfit, and it took us a little bit of time to get to grips with things early on.

“I thought the girls were outstanding, to be fair. We were disappointed at half-time to go in at 2-0 down; we caused our own problems with the second goal.

“To come back the way we did was so pleasing and we showed great resilience. Once we got a goal back, it gave us belief we could get an equaliser.

“It wasn’t to be, but we have pushed Newcastle all the way, in my opinion. They were screaming for the final whistle.”

She added: “I think we showed that we have improved since we faced Newcastle in September. They dominated us for 90 minutes, whereas this time it felt a bit more even although I know they could have scored a few more goals.

“This group just need to keep turning up and believing they can put a performance in.”

“I'm Proud Of Everyone” - Sims

Captain Amy Sims admitted she was ‘proud’ of her team-mates for their performance against the table-topping Magpies.

Derby knew beforehand that the game would arguably be one of their toughest of the season so far, but Sims was encouraged by the team’s display.

She was quick to highlight Newcastle’s undoubted quality, but Sims is of the belief that the Ewes have made great strides since their early-season meeting at the Don Amott Arena which ended in a 1-0 loss.

She said: “It is a weird one, really, because we’ve lost 2-1 but I am so proud of how everyone pulled together.

“We took it to Newcastle in the last 20 minutes and I don’t think you can fault the workrate of everyone.

“I can’t fault the effort of the girls; we’ve been beaten by a really good team but we’ve improved massively as a team compared to when we faced Newcastle back in September.”