Durham Women fell to defeat at title-chasing Millwall Lionesses despite a spirited performance in London.
The Wildcats fell behind to Leigh Nicol’s long-range effort, before Billie Brooks doubled the advantage.
Beth Hepple reduced the arrears, only for Ashlee Hincks’ free-kick to creep in and restore Millwall’s two-goal cushion.
There was late hope for the Wildcats as Jordan Atkinson pulled another goal back, but there was no late leveller as Durham fell to only their second defeat of the season.
Lee Sanders was able to welcome Helen Alderson and Becky Salicki back into the squad ahead of the game, and the latter was straight into the action as she fired narrowly wide after Emily Roberts’ cut-back.
And it was the visitors who continued to press forward with Roberts denied at her feet by Sarah Quantrill after Zoe Ness had played her into the area.
But despite their early pressure, the Wildcats fell behind when a cross was cleared as far as Nicol whose long-range stunner left Alderson with no chance.
Nicki Gears then missed two opportunities – the first flying wide and the second straight at Quantrill – as Durham grew back into the game.
Yet they could have been two down moments later as Hincks sprung the offside trap and bore down on goal only for Alderson to parry her eventual shot as Millwall led at the break.
And just two miniutes after the restart they had doubled their lead as Brooks rose highest to glance a header home from Hincks’ free-kick.
Durham were still battling, though, and pulled a goal back when Hepple kept her cool in front of goal to calmly slot past Quantrill after surging into the area.
Ness then flashed an effort wide as Durham tried to build up some momentum against a stubborn Millwall backline.
Having been a threat all game, Hincks then grabbed herself a goal when her free-kick managed to creep in at the far post.
That didn’t deter the Wildcats though, who continued to push forward in search of a lifeline with Ness firing narrowly wide from 12 yards.
They got a deserved second when Atkinson rode several challenges before curling into the bottom corner late on.
But there was no chance for a leveller as Millwall claimed the three points.
Durham XI: Alderson, Johnson, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Ness, Gears, Salicki (Cottam), Roberts (Atkinson), Briggs (Bitzer), Hill
Sub Not Used: Christon