REPORT: Durham 3-2 Sheffield

Durham Women picked up their first league win since the start of January after a five-goal thriller against Sheffield.

The Wildcats took the lead through Beth Hepple’s strike directly from a corner, before second half goals from Nicki Gears and Emily Roberts extended the lead.

But just as it looked as if the Wildcats were home and dry, Katie Anderson and Melissa Johnson struck for Sheffield as the visitors threatened to mount a comeback.

But, despite late Sheffield pressure, Durham held firm to claim a valuable three points.

After a resounding victory over Leicester at the weekend, confidence was sky high and the Wildcats began brightly.

Kathryn Hill saw an effort well-saved by Sheffield stopper Elizabeth Hobson after a spell of early pressure, but it was the visiting side who had the best chance of the opening exchanges when Danielle Cox saw a header come back off the crossbar.

Hobson was then in the thick of the action once again as she denied Jordan Atkinson after the Durham forward had broke into the area, with Hill then seeing an effort cleared off the line from the resulting corner.

And Durham eventually found the breakthrough just after the half hour as Hepple’s corner found a way in at the near post.

Zoe Ness then sent a long-range volley over the bar as the hosts finished the half on top.

The second half saw Sheffield threatening, with Anderson having a powerful effort deflected wide before Sherry McCue drilled over after a corner was cleared out to the midfielder.

But a pair of substitutions proved the turning point for Durham, as the introduction of Gears and Roberts provided an attacking spark.

Roberts almost provided an immediate impact when she fired wide after cutting inside, while Ness also squandered a good chance after a slick move allowed her to round the keeper.

It was to be Gears, though, who doubled Durham’s advantage when she took down a long ball before firing into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.

And just a minute later, it was three as Roberts found space on the edge of the area to drill past Hobson.

That looked to seal things for Durham, but moments later the game was thrown wide open when Johnson’s shot was well-saved by Helen Alderson only for Anderson to drill home the rebound.

And Sheffield were then able to reduce the deficit to one, as Johnson’s turn on the edge of the area saw her break free of the backline before slotting past the Durham stopper.

A Sheffield onslaught then ensued, but Durham managed to remain strong and held out to secure the win.

Durham (3-5-2): Helen Alderson, Kathryn Hill, Grace McCatty, Rebecca Salicki. Ellie Christon, Sarah Robson, Lauren Briggs, Beth Hepple, Annabel Johnson, Jordan Atkinson, Zoe Ness.

Substitutes: Nicki Gears for Christon 52; Emily Roberts for Atkinson 60; Nicola Worthington for Ness 90.

Substitutes not used: Jenny Bitzer, Megan Borthwick, Ellis Dalgliesh, Abigail Cottam.

Bookings: Salicki (65)

Attendance: 347

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