Durham Women returned to winning ways with a comprehensive victory over Aston Villa Ladies.
Sarah McFadden’s first half curler was added to after the break by Becky Salicki and Sarah Eadon to see the Wildcats climb up to third.
Lee Sanders made two changes to the side that were beaten 2-0 by Yeovil a fortnight ago, as Tyler Dodds and Nat Gutteridge made way for Eadon and debutant Emily Roberts.
The visitors were heavily beaten by Manchester City in last weekend’s Continental Tyres Cup action, but started the brightest with Beth Merrick skewing a shot wide early on.
They continued to press forward and should have taken the lead when Helen Alderson’s clearance was intercepted by Katie Wilkinson, only for the striker to fire into the side netting with the goal at her mercy.
Minutes later, Merrick found herself through one-one-one but again could only find the side netting.
After weathering the early storm, the Wildcats settled into the game and had a chance of their own when Beth Hepple fired over after getting on to Eadon’s flick-on.
Chances continued to flow, with Atkinson thwarted as she looked to pull the trigger before saw heroic defending from a corner saw Villa keep the ball out.
Their defence was breached five minutes before the break, however, when some neat build-up from Roberts and Eadon saw the latter tee up McFadden who curled home a sublime effort from the edge of the box.
The second half started off as a much more cagey affair, with Villa duo Grace Moloney and Elisha N’Dow requiring lengthy treatment after clashing heads.
It was Durham who were still making most of the running. however, with Eadon seeing a drilled effort deflect narrowly wide of the post.
There wouldn’t be long to wait for a second goal though, as from the resultant corner Salicki rose highest to head home from 12 yards.
And this buoyed the Wildcats, who were oozing confidence and getting bodies forward.
Sarah Wilson thought she had added a third when her effort struck the bar with substitute stopper Chloe Beattie left stranded.
A third did follow moments later, when Eadon met Hepple’s corner at the near post and steered the ball home to grab her first goal for the club.
Villa had a chance to pull one back late on when Kerri Welsh lifted the ball over Alderson, only for the foot of the post to deny her.
Durham saw out the final few minutes to wrap up a vital three points in their quest for promotion.
Durham: Alderson; Macek, Christon, Wilson, Salicki; McFadden, Lee (Corrie), Hepple (Elliott); Atkinson, Roberts, Eadon (Dodds)
Subs Not Used: Darkoah, Gutteridge