A hardworking performance was left without reward as Durham fell to a 2-0 defeat against Doncaster Rovers Belles at New Ferens Park.
Goals either side of half-time from Emily Roberts and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk ensured Doncaster completed a League double over the Wildcats.
As with the first game between the sides on the opening day, Durham will feel the score doesn’t reflect the 90 minutes as they battled hard against the Belles, who move back into top spot.
Lee Sanders made one change following Sunday’s defeat to Aston Villa, with Courtney Corrie coming in for a first League start to replace Becky Beech up front.
The Wildcats made a promising start, forcing a string of early corners, but found themselves pegged back with ten minutes elapsed.
Roberts carved out the Belles’ first shot after some neat interplay and fired high into Helen Alderson’s goal, giving the stopper no chance.
Despite the early setback, the Wildcats persisted and had chances of their own. Jordon Atkinson proved a particular menace for the away defence, chasing down two seemingly lost causes that visiting keeper Nicola Hobbs just about dealt with.
The Belles were restricted to long shots through ex-England international Sue Smith and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, with Beth England’s 25-yard stroke also a shade wide of Alderson’s post.
The home side’s hard work continued and another loose ball chased down, this time from Corrie, almost paid dividends as Hobbs’ clearance bounced fortuitously off the striker and out of play.
Buoyed by matching the opposition in the first half, Durham came out fighting again in the second.
Jemma Purfield carved out a couple of openings but couldn’t work Hobbs with a chance of great note, while Atkinson’s venture down the right-hand side couldn’t be turned goal bound by substitute Jess Clark.
Roberts had another long-range chance before the winger played a pivotal part on the Belles’ second in the 78th minute.
Her far post lob over Alderson struck the post before trickling over the line despite the best efforts of Wilson, with Sweetman-Kirk apprehensively claiming the final touch.
Smith went close again before Purfield rolled an effort agonisingly wide from a tight angle as Durham were unable to secure a deserved consolation.