Durham Women suffered a heavy Continental Tyres Cup defeat at the hands of Sheffield FC Ladies.
A hat-trick from Melissa Johnson along with strikes from Danielle Cox and Holly Housley did the damage for the hosts, with Jordan Atkinson’s first half strike a mere consolation.
Having beaten the same opposition 4-0 only three days previously, Durham were expecting a backlash from Sheffield.
And they found themselves behind after only two minutes when Cox rose highest in the area to head home from a teasing corner.
It could have been two moments later were it not for the fingertips of Helen Alderson who diverted Johnson’s curler wide before then denying Sophie Jones after a well-worked move.
After weathering an early Sheffield onslaught, Durham began to create chances with Zoe Ness seeing an effort deflect narrowly wide before Emily Roberts placed her shot past the wrong side of the post.
But Sheffield came back with force and added a second after 22 minutes as Johnson raced through on goal before cooly slotting past Alderson.
Durham were handed a lifeline only four minutes later, however.
After some good pressure, Kathryn Hill managed to play Atkinson into the area and the winger made no mistake as she side-footed into the bottom corner.
Yet only moments later the hosts restored their two-goal advantage as Johnson managed to knock the ball past Alderson before finishing with the simplest of tap-ins.
And there was still time for a fourth before the interval as Durham failed to clear a corner and Housley benefitted, smashing the ball home from close range.
Sarah Wilson, making her 75th appearance for the Wildcats, could have reduced the deficit before the break but saw her header hacked off the line.
The second half was a far more tepid affair, although Annabel Johnson did force Danielle Gibbons into a fine save after she had found some space in the area.
It’s another Johnson who would steal the show, though, as Sheffield’s Melissa sealed her hat-trick just past the hour mark as she lofted the ball past Alderson.
It could have been six, too, but Durham were saved by the post after Emily Hollinshead had broken through on goal.
Five was enough for Sheffield, though, who move above the Wildcats in the Continental Tyres Cup group.