REPORT: Blackburn 0-2 Durham Women

Eleanor Dale’s first goal for Durham Women and a late Molly Sharpe strike helped the Wildcats to victory over Blackburn Rovers.

The teenager’s superb header put Durham ahead at Bamber Bridge, before Sharpe added a deserved second in stoppage time.

Lee Sanders’ side started brightly and thought they had taken the lead with just seven minutes on the clock after Nicki Gears slotted home following a quickly-taken free-kick – only for the linesman’s flag to halt the celebrations.

Gears then turned provider, with her low cross turned against the post by Dale with Fran Stenson beaten.

Missy Bo Kearns tried to retaliate for the hosts but could only curl wide from the edge of the area as the game began to open up.

Chances kept coming, with Sharpe seeing a looping header held by Stenson before Sarah Robson fired over from 20 yards after Blackburn failed to convincingly clear a cross.

After weathering that storm, Blackburn forged a fine opportunity of their own as a patient move saw Saffron Jordan through on goal – with Megan Borthwick forced into a stunning save to deny her.

The first half ended goalless, but Dale almost handed the Wildcats the lead within seconds of the restart as she forced Stenson into a smart stop from range as her rasping drive threatened to creep in the bottom corner.

The same player then turned a floated Gears cross narrowly wide as Durham ramped up the pressure at the start of the second half.

But a better chance was still to come, as Sarah Robson surged out of midfield and played Dale into the box, with the striker seeing her effort flash just wide of the near post.

Blackburn still looked a threat on the break though, and could have taken the lead were it not for a stunning tackle from Kathryn Hill to dispossess Jordan in the area.

And the significance of that tackle would fully be felt on 57 minutes as the Wildcats took the lead – and it was no surprise that the lively Dale got the goal.

After Blackburn failed to fully clear a corner, Sharpe’s delivery was met with a bullet header from the teenager as she scored her first goal for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats continued to push forward, with both Dale and Sharpe denied from distance as Stenson continued her impressive performance between the sticks.

Abby Holmes came closer yet, seeing a venomous strike come back off the post before Hepple and Dale were denied on the rebound.

A deserved second would come in injury time as Sharpe reacted quickest to steer home a header from close range.

That proved enough for the Wildcats, who sealed a big three points on the road.

Durham XI: Borthwick; Holmes, Salicki, Hill, Christon; Robson, Cox; Gears (Weithofer 90), Hepple, Dale; Sharpe (Manders 90)

Durham subs not used:,Greenwood, Nelson, Achterhof

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