The Wildcats fell to their first FA WSL defeat of the season against a strong Aston Villa side.
Second half strikes from Katie Wilkinson and Mollie Rouse handed the Villains victory, with Helen Alderson’s heroics not enough for Durham.
Having won all three of their previous league games, Lee Sanders’ side were full of confidence but knew Villa would be their toughest test yet.
And they were proved right, with the hosts racing out the blocks with Amy West curling wide before Sarah Wilson hacked a Wilkinson header off the line.
Alderson then made her first fine save of the afternoon, doing well to tip Wilkinson’s effort wide after she had broken through the backline.
The Wildcats weren’t without their chances, however, with Villa stopper Jess Myers somehow keeping out Sarah Eadon’s close range shot while Ellie Christon fizzed an effort narrowly wide moments later.
Neither side could break the deadlock in the first half, and it was only Alderson who kept the game goalless just after the break.
First she denied Merrick with her feet, before recovering well to claw Welsh’s follow-up effort off the line.
Chances were few and far between in the second half, with a strike just far of the far post from Nat Gutteridge the Wildcats’ best chance.
Villa took the lead with just over twenty minutes remaining, when Bethan Merrick’s cross was met with a thumping Wilkinson header which left Alderson with no chance.
Durham continued to seek an equaliser, but struggled to break down a resilient Villa defence with the centre half pairing of Jade Richards and Elisha N’Dow impressing.
Substitute Mollie Rouse was then able to add a second for Villa with eight minutes remaining, as she bundled home a deflected cross from close range.
There was no route back from this for Durham, who will seek to bounce back against Sheffield FC in the Continental Tyres Cup next weekend.