Andy Cook was delighted to pick up his second East Midlands derby day win in three months as his side fought hard for a 3-2 victory over Derby County on Sunday afternoon.
Liv Cook and Lyndsey Harkin put The Reds 2-0 ahead inside the opening quarter of the game but Forest were pegged back by The Rams as the scoring was levelled to 2-2 just after half-time. But the in-form Precious Hamilton struck late in the 86th minute to see Forest through to the third round of the competition.
Speaking after the game Cook expressed his delight: “I’m absolutely over the moon. We went in at half-time 2-1 up and we spoke about how we need to keep it tight and make sure our shape stays right.
“But Derby did well to get themselves back into the game and they threatened us with a few good crosses.
“But when you’ve got Precious Hamilton in your team you know what you can do. What a great finish it was to win it and the fact it was so late only made it better.
“Then it was just the case of seeing it out and we made a couple of changes to keep it fresh and we did what we needed to do. For me, I’d like to give a special shout out to Mai Moncaster for coming on and holding that midfield great.”
Despite collecting their seven-consecutive win in a row Cook calls for his side to improve on their errors as they did see their 2-0 lead slip.
“It happens naturally in games. You can’t have the ball and you can’t keep the momentum for 90 minutes and you’ve got to learn to deal with it when you don’t have it,” he explained.
“We didn’t do that well enough today and some of the players admitted at the end that they were off their game at times.
“But that gives us something to work on and the players can now go away and analyse their own performance and hopefully the win won’t gloss over the fact that we still made errors.
“But it’s still a great thing to have ways to improve even when we are winning seven games in a row.”
Three different Reds etched their name on the scoresheet yesterday afternoon as Hamilton netted her 20th of the season with the side’s other two goals coming from unlikely sources – their two centre halves. And Cook stated that it is important for other members of his team to be scoring to ensure they don’t solely rely on Hamilton.
He said: “We’re constantly talking about how we need to get more players scoring and we cannot just rely on Precious as there games she hasn’t played and there will be more games in the future where she can’t play.
“So, we need to make sure other players are getting an eye for goal. It was great that one came from a corner-kick as Liv Cook’s run to the near post was something we’ve been working on.”
His captain Harkin netted an astonishing solo effort on the 16th minute as she put the side 2-0 up from over 25 yards out. The Nottingham native picked up the ball from her own half before driving it towards the Derby goal where she took aim from long distance to bury an effort underneath the crossbar and over the helpless ‘keeper’s head. Cooked light-heartedly explained where the inspiration had come from for the goal.
“After Millie Bright drove forward and scored that goal for Chelsea the other week we had been speaking to our centre halves about doing that and making that step in,” Cook said.
“When she did it we were all like ‘go on then, show us what you’ve got’ and when she hit it you knew it was going in.
“She’s technically a great footballer and she has that ability in her locker.
Bex Rayner continued her terrific form in her first season in the Garibaldi as she continued her impressive run of assisting or scoring a goal in every game she’s featured in this season as her corner-kick was turned home by Cook. The gaffer stated that Rayner has been a ‘standout’ Red for him so far, this season.
He beamed: “I’ve been asked by colleagues at Forest who for me has been our standout player this season and it had to be Bex Rayner.
“To score or assist in every game she’s played in this season is unbelievable and it was great to see her continue that against Derby.
“That’s something that me or the staff can’t take credit for that’s all down to the players as they do the work on the field.
“I’m blessed that I get to work with these players and get to know them as people as they’re all fantastic individuals and I love being around them.”