REPORT: Durham 2-1 Oxford United

Zoe Ness’ late winner saw the Wildcats retain their unbeaten start to the season thanks to victory over Oxford United Women.

Ness slotted home three minutes from time to seal victory after Durham were forced to come from behind after Ellie Noble’s goal at the start of the second half.

Beth Hepple levelled things up shortly after, before Ness then netted the winner.

Lee Sanders made one change from the side that drew with Watford as Ellie Christon replaced Jen Jennings, while there was a welcome return for Nicki Gears on the bench after a long term injury.

And Durham took the game to their visitors early on and had several half-chances with Sarah Wilson seeing a shot blocked before Nat Gutteridge poked wide from close range.

Oxford were still threatening, however, and had arguably the best chance of the first half when Emily Donovan sprung the offside trap only to loft the ball well wide.

Hepple then had a chance to give the hosts the lead but couldn’t get the ball out from under her feet after a fine through ball from Ness.

Neither side could find a break through in the first half, but the U’s were ahead shortly after the restart as Noble took aim from distance and her shot found its way into the bottom corner. 

And the lead could have been doubled moments later were it not for Rachael Laws denying the lively Ini Umotong who had broken through on goal.

This let-off seemed to spark Durham into life and they began to create chances again – Emily Roberts slotting wide after she had ran the length of the pitch before stopper Demi Lambourne did well to deny Hepple at her near post.

But Hepple wasn’t to be denied again and netted the equaliser after 58 minutes as she slotted home from close range after a defensive mixup.

Umotong then could have handed Oxford the lead with twenty minutes remaining with only heroic defending keeping the scores level.

After the Nigerian saw her first shot saved by Laws, Becky Salicki did well to block Evie Gane’s follow-up on the line before Umotong then slotted wide with the goal at her mercy.

That miss became significant in the 87th minute as Ness handed the Wildcats the lead, slotting home from 12 yards after a drilled cross from Emily Roberts.

Durham saw out the final few minutes with minimal fuss to pick up another three points in the FA WSL Spring Series.

Durham XI: Laws, Johnson, Wilson (Gibson), Hepple, Ness, Gutteridge (Briggs), Atkinson (Gears), Salicki, Christon, Roberts, Lee 

Subs Not Used: Borthwick, Dodds

Attendance: 507

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