Durham Women put in a five-star performance as they brushed aside Lewes at New Ferens Park.
In what was arguably one of the Wildcats’ best performances since stepping-up to the elite of women’s football, a treble from Abi Cottam and strikes from Becky Salicki and Zoe Ness secured a comprehensive win.
Lee Sanders named an unchanged side from the team that beat London Bees and saw his faith in the team rewarded with a dazzling first half display.
After weathering some early pressure from the hosts – where Hannah Reid had to deny Danielle Lane’s header – the hosts grew into the game with Abby Holmes coming close to opening the scoring.
And a deserved breakthrough eventually came after 18 minutes when Salicki rose highest to nod home Beth Hepple’s corner at the far post.
Just a minute later it was two, as a fine team move culminated in Emily Roberts teeing up Ness who proceeded to fire into the roof of the net.
The cheers from the second goal had barely died down when the Wildcats found a third – Salicki’s free-kick evading everyone except Cottam, who lofted the ball over Nina Wilson and in.
Three minutes later it was four, as Cottam rounded-off a 20-pass move which saw Durham fluidly transition from attack to defence.
And the striker had her hat-trick – and the host’s fifth – just after the half hour as she headed home from Holmes’ cross.
Lewes were much-improved after the break, but still had to be alert to the Wildcats’ threats – substitute stopper Faye Baker doing well to keep out a Hepple free-kick with her legs.
The Rookettes through plenty at the hosts but failed to seriously trouble Reid – thanks in part to another imperious performance from Durham’s back four with Salicki and skipper Sarah Wilson making no shortage of fine interventions.
Reid was called upon to deny Carleton late on, but that was the closest Lewes came to a leveller as Durham held on to claim a valuable three points which sees their unbeaten run continue.
Durham XI: Reid, Wilson, Robson (Dixon), Hepple, Ness, Salicki, Christon, Roberts, Cottam (Gears), Holmes, Lee (Knott)
Sub not used: Borthwick