Durham Women kicked-off their Continental Tyres Cup campaign in style with a thumping victory over previously-unbeaten Aston Villa.
A brace from Molly Sharpe and Abby Holmes’ header sealed a well-deserved victory after a dominant performance at New Ferens Park.
Lee Sanders made just two changes from the side that beat Charlton Athletic a fortnight ago, with Megan Borthwick and Nicki Gears brought into the fold.
And the Wildcats began brightly, taking the lead after just 14 minutes.
Fine work from Gears out wide allowed her to whip in a low cross, with Sharpe beating her marker to the ball and prodding home.
That buoyed the hosts who continued to push forward in numbers against a shaky Villa backline – Megan Bell came closest to adding a second when her dipping volley crashed off the bar with Sian Rogers well beaten.
But a second would come shortly later through the impressive Sharpe, who latched onto Beth Hepple’s through ball before rifling into the bottom corner.
It could have been three before the break too, with Iris Achterhof denied by Rogers after she surged towards goal.
After the interval, Villa began brightly with Emily Syme seeing a curler held by Borthwick before Amy West sent a free-kick wide.
And after weathering that storm, Durham added a third – Holmes rising highest to thump a header home at the far post after Hepple’s teasing delivery.
Achterhof was then twice denied by Rogers as she came agonisingly close to extending the advantage late on.
Villa struck the bar late on through a Jade Richards header, but that was the closest they came as the Wildcats ran-out convincing winners.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Robertson, Robson, Hepple, Sharpe (Manders 68), Gears (Weithofer 72), Achterhof, Bell, Christon, Holmes
Subs not used: Reid, Salicki