Durham Women suffered a first defeat of the 2019/20 season at the hands of a Fran Stenson-inspired Blackburn Rovers.
The visiting stopper made a string of stunning saves to keep the Wildcats at bay after Ellie Stewart’s first-half penalty.
Durham started on the front foot as they looked to build on a 6-0 win over London City Lionesses – with Lee Sanders opting not to make any changes from the victory in the capital.
Lisa Robertson saw a volley well-held by Stenson before the Arsenal loanee managed to deny Iris Achterhof after she had seized on a loose pass.
Her best save was yet to come – as the Blackburn ‘keeper managed to keep out a Sarah Robson header from point-blank range after the Durham midfielder got a firm contact on Ellie Christon’s inch-perfect cross.
Blackburn had their chances in a cagey first-half – Natasha Fenton sending a header crashing off the crossbar – and took the lead from the penalty spot after Abby Holmes was adjudged to have fouled Saffron Jordan,
Hannah Reid guessed the right way, but Stewart’s penalty had the power and placement to beat the Durham stopper.
Durham threw everything at their visitors in the second half, but struggled to unlock a well-drilled and resolute backline.
And when they did break through, they found Stenson in inspired form – the stopper doing well to deny substitute Megan Bell after she broke into the area.
Achterhof sent a volley arching over the bar in what was Durham’s best chance of the second half – while Blackburn may be disappointed they didn’t extend their lead after a fine counter-attack almost saw Jordan tap home at the back post.
The result sees Durham fall to a first defeat of the term – while Blackburn pick up a deserved first triumph.
Durham XI: Reid, Hill, Robertson, Robson, Hepple, Sharpe (Bell), Gears (Atkinson), Achterhof, Salicki, Christon, Holmes
Subs not used: Borthwick, Wilson, Weithofer