The Belles cruised to victory against an injury-hit Wildcats.
Durham Women were beaten 5-0 by WSL2 leaders Doncaster Rovers Belles at the Keepmoat Stadium in the Continental Tyres Cup.
In what was the Wildcats penultimate game in the competition, the visitors were resolute in defence and stifled the high-flying Belles for much of the first-half.
They were restricted to corners and half-chances, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk combined well with Nicole Dale, but the latter dragged her shot wide of Anna Moorhouse’s goal just after 22 minutes.
Just before the half an hour mark, left-back Lauren Cresswell tested the Wildcat’s goalkeeper from distance, but it was well held.
The home side finally made the breakthrough minutes later, in-form striker Sweetman-Kirk cutback brought Moorhouse off her line, allowing Emily Roberts to tap in at the near post.
That goal seemed to rejuvenate the Wildcats and brought their first chances at goal, with Beth Hepple going close twice. She at first attempted to catch goalkeeper Nicola Hobbs out with a 40-yard free-kick, before bursting into the box and shooting over the bar.
They say take your chances when you can, and that proved vital as almost immediately after Hepple’s chances, the Belles scored a penalty four minutes before half-time. Moorhouse and Sweetman-Kirk both went for the same ball and the goalkeeper was adjudged to have brought down the striker in the box.
On first look, it looked like Moorhouse had got the ball and it was outside the box, a point that captain Sarah Wilson was making to the referee, but he waved her away and Sweetman-Kirk dusted herself down and scored the resulting spot-kick.
The Wildcats started brighter in the second-half, but as the game wore on, the Belles were able to bring on their big guns.
Substitutes Sue Smith and Bethany England came on, but not before Emily Simpkins shot at Moorhouse, Kasia Lipka shot over the bar and Julie Nelson’s headed clear Robert’s attempt on an open goal.
Smith set up Sweetman-Kirk for a shot and got on the end of a flick-on heading wide, before getting on the score sheet herself, England dispossessing Nelson and laying the ball back the midfielder, who drilled into the bottom corner.
Prior to that, Jade Lorton-Radburn went close for the Belles, and Jordan Atkinson shot straight at Hobbs as the Wildcats tried to rally.
The substitutions clearly worked for the Belles, England clipped the post with seven minutes left, before a Smith corner was flicked-in by Simpkins.
She quickly scored a second, as Moorhouse was unable to keep a hold of the ball and Simpkins rolled the ball home to make it five, but the Wildcats goalkeeper atoned for her error as she produced a sublime save to stop Sweetman-Kirk’s diving header at the death.