Derby County Women were beaten in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division for the first time in 2024 with a 2-1 loss at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Naimh Deasy’s goal deep into added time at the end of the first half gave Albion the lead in the West Midlands.
Sam Griffiths’ side flew out of the traps after half-time and equalised within a few minutes as new signing Dolcie O’Connor fired home a debut goal moments after coming off the bench.
Mariam Mahmood slotted home soon afterwards to secure all three points for the Baggies.
Derby are back on home territory at the Don Amott Arena this coming Sunday as they look to get back to winning ways (2pm kick-off).
“We Lost It In The First Half” - Griffiths
Manager Sam Griffiths pulled no punches when offering her assessment of the defeat against the Baggies.
Griffiths felt the Ewes’ disappointing performance in the opening 45 minutes proved to be costly for the side.
The Derby boss believes a lack of consistency in individual and collective displays during the season has been what has held the team back in their quest to position themselves higher up the league table.
She said: “I am disappointed. I thought we weren’t even at the races in the first half.
“In the second half were better and created more opportunities but, in my opinion, we lost the game in the first half.
“When we’re on it, we can be very good. I need to work hard, alongside the staff and with the players doing a bit of soul-searching, to try and make sure we’re on it more often. We need to address it and get some more consistency.
“We’ll get on the training ground this week, come back together and try to put things right next weekend against Huddersfield.”
She added: “We’ve come up against West Brom three times this season and every time we’ve been poor, which is frustrating. When you lose and you don’t reach the levels you know you can as a side, it is very disappointing.”
Griffiths did, however, have words of praise for new signing Dolcie O’Connor.
After joining from Manchester City on a dual-registration basis until the end of the season earlier this week, she made an immediate impact on her debut by netting Derby’s equaliser.
Griffiths said: “Dolcie was excellent when she came on. She played with intent, was positive and had more shots than anyone else on the pitch and she only played 45 minutes.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what she can bring to the team as she was a breath of fresh air.
“We lack direct players that can get on the ball, drive forward and attack so she’s a welcome addition to help us play how we want to.”
Charlotte Steggles was keen to stress the Ewes’ players must use the defeat as a learning curve.
Steggles, who is one of a handful senior players in what is a relatively youthful Derby squad, says the group must come together to ensure they bounce back from a disappointing defeat in a positive manner.
The defender, who is in her first season with the club after signing from local rivals Nottingham Forest last summer, believes it is down to all the players to take accountability when they don't reach the level of performance they are capable of as a collective.
She said: “We’re disappointed with how we performed, especially in the first half because we were much better after half-time, and it is a difficult one to take.
“We need to learn from this, move on and make sure we are back on it against Huddersfield.
“There’s a young squad in the changing room and we must find a way to win.
“It is important we come together as a group, take accountability and lead on the pitch.”
She added: “We’ve got a lot of games coming up, especially a few long away days, so it is important we embrace and enjoy them.”