Durham Women remain in the Championship promotion hunt after a comfortable 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace.
Goals at the start of each half from Emily Roberts and Nicki Gears respectively ensured the visitors picked up all three points and consigned Palace to a fourth defeat in six matches.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for Palace from the outset. Durham’s Rachel Lee whipped in a free-kick that Palace goalkeeper Lucy Gillett could not gather and Roberts tapped in.
Palace looked nervy and Durham looked to capitalise on every minor error, but the home side improved as the first-half progressed.
Kallie Balfour was denied by Hannah Reid before Lisa Robertson flashed a shot across the face of the goal at the other end.
Gears then turned home a Hepple free-kick, but her celebrations were prematurely brought to a halt by the linesman’s flag.
Durham remained on the front foot after the break and, when Gears got in behind Palace’s defence, her cool lofted finish ensured the Wildcats’ lead was extended to two.
The visitors’ accuracy in the final third of the pitch demonstrated the gulf in class between the two sides; Durham goalkeeper Hannah Reid barely had to make a save, whereas her counterpart Gillett was busy until the end as Palace could not come close to finding a consolation goal.
Victory saw the Wildcats pick up their first three points in 2019 – and first clean sheet on several months – as the push for promotion continues.