Durham Women have reached the Quarter Final of the FA Cup for the first time in their history after victory over Leicester City.
In a thrilling encounter, early goals from Zoe Ness and Ellie Christon looked to have put Durham in control, only for Leigh Dugmore to pull a goal back.
Abi Cottam’s fine effort then restored the two-goal advantage for the hosts, only for Sophie Domingo to put Leicester firmly back into contention with a goal deep into first half injury time.
But Cottam’s second and a strike from Emily Roberts sealed progression for the Wildcats as they were made to work hard against the impressive Foxes.
There was plenty at stake with both teams seeking a first-ever Quarter Final berth, and after a nervy opening it was Durham who struck the first blow.
Good work from Cottam saw her keep the ball in play out wide, and her low cross found Ness in acres of space and she slotted home.
Cottam was then agonisingly close to sliding in a low Christon cross, before Beth Hepple whipped a free-kick just wide of the far post as Durham pushed forward.
And they had a deserved second goal when Christon burst into the area and kept her cool to slot past Charlotte Clarke.
Chances continued to come for the hosts with Cottam in the thick of the action – the striker did well up top to hold off three defender before forcing Clarke into a low save.
But Leicester continued to look dangerous on the counter attack and pulled a goal back just before the break through Dugmore, who drilled home from 12 yards to bring the Foxes back into the tie.
Durham, though, restored their two-goal cushion only moments later as Kathryn Hill’s long ball was met with a phenomenal finish from Cottam. whose first-time volley left Clarke with no chance.
Former Leicester defender Annabel Johnson almost made it four for the Wildcats shortly after, but she saw her header come back off the post in an action-packed end to the first half.
And that wasn’t the end of the action before the break either, as Domingo reduced the arrears once again for the visitors when she fired home from six yards after some neat build-up play.
The second half saw far fewer clear-cut opportunities, as Leicester pushed forward in search of the goal that would bring them back into the contest.
Yet despite having to soak up plenty of pressure from the Foxes, it was Durham who struck next as Cottam was played in on goal by Ness and delicately lifted the ball over Clarke and in.
Leicester were still a threat through, and Helen Alderson had to make a fine sake to keep out a Dugmore header at close-range, before the same player saw another header strike the inside of the post.
There was to be no way back for Leicester however, and they conceded another late on as Roberts powered home from inside the area after Ness’ teasing cross.
Victory sends the Wildcats through to the FA Cup Quarter Finals, with their opponents to be revealed tomorrow.
Durham XI: Alderson, Johnson, McCatty, Robson, Hepple (Worthington), Ness, Salicki, Christon, Roberts, Hill (Briggs), Cottam (Dalgliesh)
Subs Not Used: Borthwick, Atkinson