Durham Women were forced to settle for a point as their promotion ambitions took a blow at Leicester City.
The Wildcats dominated throughout and deservedly took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Sarah Robson’s fine volley.
But they were pegged back late on as Mel Johnson slotted home – after a questionable free-kick was awarded to the hosts.
A stalemate arguably flattered the hosts, who were on the back foot from the opening whistle – Zoe Ness drawing an early save from opposition stopper Demi Lambourne as her rasping drive looked set to find the bottom corner.
Durham continued to apply the pressure but failed to create any meaningful chances.
Their best opportunities of the first half fell to Nicki Gears – who saw a curling effort held by Lambourne – and Ness who stabbed narrowly wide at the near post after Abby Holmes’ centre.
But as the game looked set to head into the break goalless, the visitors struck courtesy of a Robson volley which soared into the top corner after she had taken down Sarah Wilson’s raking pass.
Lee Sanders’ side continued to pin back their hosts after the interval too, with Holmes sending an effort high and wide at the far post before the sliding Beth Hepple just couldn’t connect with Emily Roberts’ low cross.
Leicester did see more of the ball in the second half, but failed to make a string of set pieces count.
That was until the 82nd minute, when the Foxes were awarded a controversial free-kick for offside after Durham were flagged offside in their own half. The delivery eventually fell to Johnson who placed a low shot past Hannah Reid shortly after coming off the bench.
Durham laid siege on the Foxes’ goal late on, and Gears came agonisingly close when she fired into the side netting, but there was to be no late heroics.
The Wildcats now need Tottenham Hotspur to lose at Aston Villa on Wednesday evening to have any chance of securing promotion to the top tier this season.
Durham XI: Reid, Hill, Robertson, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Ness, Gears, Christon, Roberts, Holmes (Holder)
Subs not used: Borthwick, Greenwood, Ryan