Durham Women blew the FA Women’s Championship title race wide open with a historic victory over Manchester United Women.
An own goal, a Beth Hepple penalty and a late strike from Zoe Ness wrapped up the victory for the Wildcats in front of a record crowd, as they became the first side to inflict a league defeat on the Red Devils.
And they were good value for it too, having dominated the majority of the game while restricting United to few chances.
Hepple and Ella Toone threatened early on, with the pair denied by Siobhan Chamberlain and Hannah Reid respectively in a cagey opening spell.
But the breakthrough eventually came on 22 minutes, when a free-kick from Hepple was diverted past her own goalkeeper by Amy Turner.
Charlie Devlin could have levelled moments later, but blazed over from close range having been teed up in the area.
However, Casey Stoney’s side did level before the break – Toone sending a sweetly-struck effort into the bottom corner after the Wildcats failed to deal with a long ball.
After the break, though, the Wildcats up the ante and were on top for the majority.
Nicki Gears headed wide at the near post before forcing a fine stop out of Chamberlain just moments later.
A second did come for Durham just before the hour mark – but it wasn’t without its controversy.
The Wildcats were awarded a penalty after a handball in the area, with replays showing Amy Turner had palmed the ball away.
But the referee instead booked Mollie Green, before Hepple stepped up and confidently sent the spot kick into the bottom corner.
United continued to press forward but failed to trouble Reid in the final stages – Katie Zelem coming closest to a leveller when she bent a free-kick high and wide.
Instead, it was to be the hosts who netted a third when Kathryn Hill’s fine break from the back saw her thread in Ness, who left Turner on her backside before firing home at the near post.
Three goals were enough for the Wildcats, who were more than good value for the win.
Durham XI: Reid, Hill, Robertson, Wilson, Robson (Ness), Hepple, Gears (Christon), Salicki, Roberts (Dixon), Holmes, Lee
Subs not used: Borthwick, Ryan, Knott