A goal from top goalscorer Beth Hepple helped Durham Women to a 3-0 win against Aston Villa Ladies on her 100th appearance for the club.
Durham Women FC Goal Scorers: Ness 76′, Atkinson 89′
Hepple gave Durham the lead midway through the first half, with Zoe Ness adding a second midway through the second.
Durham then added a third in the closing stages with Jordan Atkinson putting the game beyond doubt.
Durham came in to the game hoping to bounce back from a heavy defeat at Tottenham last time out but had to deal with early pressure from the visitors.
Villa pushed forwards early on but weren’t able to create many chances. Beth Merrick came close in the ninth minute hitting a freekick in to the wall before firing the rebound over the wall.
Durham were given a chance to make Villa pay when Nicki Gears chased down a loose ball and took it past Aja Aguirre before being brought down the keeper.
Hepple stepped up and fired a low effort past Aguirre to put Durham in front. Hepple then nearly added a second just a minute later but couldn’t find the target from 25 yards out.
Hepple continued to cause Villa problems and nearly added an assist, finding Zoe Ness unmarked in the box after a good run down the right, but Ness blazed over from close range.
Durham had been the better side since taking the lead, but Villa started to grow back in to the game as the half went on. Jade Richards and Tash Baptiste both came close with headers, but neither could beat Helen Alderson.
Durham ended the half back on top but were unable to add to their tally with Becky Salicki heading wide from a corner, before Ness played a great ball through for Emily Roberts, who just couldn’t lift the ball over the keeper.
Villa came out strong in the second half but again struggled to create many clear cut chance. Baptiste nearly brought the score level but her effort from the edge of the box was deflected on to the bar.
Durham continued to create chances to extend their lead but weren’t really managing to test Aguirre. Roberts fired a 57th minute shot straight at the keeper before Hepple fired just wide from 30 yards out.
Elizabeta Ejupi was starting to look dangerous for Villa and twice came close to firing the visitors level. The first effort a fierce shot from 25 yards which looked destined for the top corner before a superb stop from Alderson.
Ejupi then tried to loop an effort in to the top corner but Alderson was well placed to save the shot.
Less than a minute later Durham added a second with Ness breaking in to the box before firing in to the bottom right hand corner.
Durham continued to push forwards and were close to adding a third but Hepple’s shot was just wide.
Villa hadn’t given up and were still looking for a route back in to the game, Ejupi was still looking the most likely to score and came close from a corner but couldn’t guide her effort on target.
Durham added a third with five minutes left to play, when Kathryn Hill broke forwards and found Jordan Atkinson who swept the ball home.
Durham XI: Helen Alderson; Kathryn Hill, Becky Salicki, Sarah Wilson ©, Annabel Johnson; Rachel Lee, Beth Hepple (Jordan Atkinson 85’), Sarah Robson (Lauren Briggs 65’); Emily Roberts (Abi Cottam 75’), Zoe Ness, Nicki Gears
Unused subs: Megan Borthwick
Villa XI: Aja Aguirre; Chloe Jones ©, Elisha N’Dow, Jade Richards (Phoebe Warner 45’), Alice Hassall, Aoife Hurley, Amy West, Jodie Hutton, Beth Merrick (Hayley Crackle 81’), Tash Baptiste, Elizabeta Ejupi
Unused subs: N/A
Report by Rory Drake