Durham Women continued their blistering start to the FA Women’s Championship campaign with a comfortable win over London Bees in front of a bumper crowd.
Sarah Robson’s opener was cancelled-out by Amelia Hazard, before a Beth Hepple penalty and a fine finish from Iris Achterhof secured the three points for the Wildcats.
After the international break last weekend, Durham showed no sign of rustiness and began on top.
Nicki Gears sent an early header over the bar before Ellie Christon’s rasping long-range drive was held by stopper Sarah Quantrill.
And a deserved breakthrough eventually came on 19 minutes – Robson reacting quickest to bundle the ball home following a corner.
Then came the game’s big talking point – with Gears pulled back by Georgia Robert when through on goal.
Referee Lucy Briggs awarded a free-kick and handed Robert a yellow card, much to the dismay of the home support.
But Durham came close from the resultant set-piece with Hepple’s shot deflected into the path of Gears who nodded against the post.
It was the hosts who continued to push forward, but Bees were level just after the half hour mark following a slick counter-attack which allowed Hazard to slot home from inside the area.
That goal briefly knocked the Wildcats, but they recovered and ended the half strongly – with Hepple and Molly Sharpe both being denied by Quantrill.
And while the first-half was a fairly even affair, the second was pretty much one-way traffic with Durham piling on the pressure in pursuit of three points.
Becky Salicki sent an effort high and wide with Gears seeing a shot blocked at the source – before a golden chance to retake the lead was presented when Abby Holmes was pushed in the box.
Hepple took responsibility for the spot-kick and made no mistake, sending Quantrill the wrong way.
Durham continued to press forward with Gears close to doubling the lead when she slid wide at the far post, and Hepple seeing a goal chalked out for offside.
There was to be a third in the 86th minute, though, when substitute Achterhof turned home Hepple’s low cross.
The win keeps Durham in the race for top spot ahead of a crucial run of fixtures.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Robertson, Robson (Wilson), Hepple, Sharpe (Achterhof), Gears (Manders), Bell, Salicki, Christon, Holmes
Durham subs not used: Reid, Weithofer