Police were called to the scene of a robbery at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium today, as Durham Women saw three points stolen from their grasp by Sheffield United.
In all seriousness, the Wildcats were made to rue missed chances as Aimee Palmer’s long-range strike saw the Blades claim a vital three points.
But the result didn’t reflect a game in which Durham dominated throughout and were desperately unlucky to come away with nothing.
Having met just three days previously in the Continental Tyres Cup, both sides rotated their squads for the clash in the FA Women’s Championship.
And it was the visitors who began brightly, with Nicki Gears sending a header wide before Megan Bell’s cross couldn’t be turned home by Beth Hepple or Iris Achterhof.
The Wildcats kept pressing forward but failed to make a string of set-pieces count, while Achterhof came agonisingly close to sliding home another tantalising delivery from Bell.
Lisa Robertson then stung the palms of Sheffield stopper Becky Flaherty from range before referee Amy Fearn waved away appeals for a penalty after Hepple was bodychecked in the area by Leandra Little – much to the dismay of the travelling support.
Sarah Robson was the next to try her luck – curling over from distance – and Hepple again came close when her near-post effort was blocked by Little.
And the best chance of the half was yet to come, with Flaherty somehow hooking Gears’ header off the line.
Sheffield created just one opportunity during the opening period – Megan Borthwick pushing a Jade Pennock shot to safety – and the one-way Durham traffic continued after the interval.
Gears saw a long-range effort comfortably held by Flaherty before Achterhof spurned two golden chances to take the lead.
First the striker robbed Sophie Barker before seeing her effort tipped over, with a volley from the resultant corner parried by Flaherty.
The Wildcats kept committing players forward, but were caught out with just over 10 minutes remaining as Palmer sent a fine long-range effort into the top corner.
It was a cruel end for Durham, who continued to press forward in injury time but to no avail.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Robertson, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Gears, Achterhof (Sharpe), Bell (Christon), Salicki, Holmes
Durham subs not used: Reid, Weithofer, Manders