Durham Women continued their stunning start to the season with a comfortable away win at London City Lionesses.
Braces from Beth Hepple and Iris Achterhof were added to by Molly Sharpe and Lisa Robertson as the Wildcats showed their class against full-time opposition.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing, with the visitors having to soak up some early pressure.
Indeed, were it not for a fine block from Abby Holmes after Juliet Kemppi has rounded Hannah Reid, then Durham could have found themselves behind early on.
Reid was unable to continue after the incident and was replaced by Megan Borthwick, who had to remain alert to keep the hosts at bay in a busy opening period.
But slightly against the run of play, it was Durham who took the lead – Hepple sending a penalty into the bottom corner after Robertson was scythed down in the area.
Kemppi could have levelled before the break with two fine chances – the first blocked against by Holmes and the second parried by Borthwick after the Finland international had broken into the box.
And the Lionesses would come to rue those chances, with Durham stepping up the gears after the interval.
A second would come after a dominant start to the second period, with Achterhof beating stopper Lucy Thomas to a long ball and slotting home.
That was the Dutch striker’s first for the club, and a second would soon follow – Achterhof skipping round a defender before firing the ball through Thomas’ legs.
And while that goal put the contest to bed, Durham weren’t done there.
Sharpe added a fourth as she picked up Robertson’s fine cross and skipped around Thomas before slotting into the empty net.
Hepple then had her second, and the Wildcats’ fifth, of the afternoon following a slick move which allowed her to burst into the box before rolling the ball into the bottom corner.
London City were then reduced to ten players as Harley Bennett received a second yellow card for a foul on Sharpe, which looked to be inside the area.
And while the referee awarded a free-kick, it mattered little – with Robertson stepping up to send an unstoppable rocket into the top corner.
The win sends the Wildcats back to the top of the FA Women’s Championship.
Durham XI: Reid (Borthwick), Hill, Robertson, Robson, Hepple, Sharpe, Gears (Manders), Achterhof, Salicki, Christon, Holmes (Weithofer)
Durham subs: Bell