Durham Women’s pre-season campaign came to an end with defeat against an impressive Everton side.
First-half goals from Megan Finnigan and Nicoline Sorensen were added to after the break by late Izzy Christiansen effort and Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah’s brace.
But a promising second half performance from the Wildcats set the side up nicely for next week’s season opener at Liverpool.
The first chance of the game fell to the hosts, as Finnigan saw a powerful header blocked by Salicki after a floated corner from the right.
Raso then drove wide after charging down a Becky Salicki clearance before Megan Borthwick came to the rescue to deny Simone Magill’s header with her feet.
Everton’s pressure eventually told with 20 minutes on the clock – Finnigan prodding into a gaping goal from close range after Borthwick looked to be fouled from a corner.
The Durham stopper was kept busy during the first half and made a good save to deny Raso from close range as the hosts continued to ask most of the questions.
In a half of few chances, Durham’s best opportunities came via Emily Roberts – who first saw a low cross narrowly evade Bridget Galloway and Nicki Gears before her pass picked out Beth Hepple who fired wide from 30 yards.
But it was the Toffees who would add a second before the break. Their high press allowed Christiansen to cross and Sorensen was on hand to tap home from close range.
Raso and Magill both came close before the break, but the Wildcats’ defender held strong against their impressive opposition prior to the interval.
Indeed, Sarah Robson almost pulled one back before half-time – Robson curling wide from 30 yards after finding a pocket of space.
The second half saw Everton continue to push forward, with Borthwick again showing her steel with a fine fingertip save to deny Sorensen a second after she found space at the far post.
Borthwick came to the rescue again moments later, once more thwarting Sorensen whose venomous drive from the edge of the box looked to be heading in.
The Wildcats still looked a threat on the break through, with the introduction of three substitutes adding some extra energy to the side.
And it was two of those subs – Iris Achterhof and Molly Sharpe – who combined to thread in Hepple who sent a drive just wide of the post from range after spotting Sandy MacIver off her line.
Salicki then made a sensational goal-line clearance to stop Emslie from scoring, before Hepple came close again at the other end as she curled wide from 20 yards.
MacIver was again caught off her line midway through the half, with Hepple’s lob dropping just the wrong side of the post as Durham began to make their mark on the game.
The Everton stopper then made a fine save to deny Achterhof after she cut inside from the left and looked to fire home at the near post.
But against the run of play, the hosts added a third as a cross fell kindly for Christiansen who prodded past Borthwick from close range.
Christiansen almost added a fourth but was denied by another stunning Borthwick save – the fingertips of the Durham stopper somehow turning her curler onto the post.
Borthwick was beaten again moments later though as Boye-Hlorkah drilled a powerful effort into the top corner.
The Everton substitute added her second and the hosts’ fifth moments later with a looping effort from range.
Durham enjoyed some late pressure, but weren’t able to get the goal their positive second half performance deserved – with the scoreline somewhat flattering the hosts.
Lee Sanders’ side now turn their attentions to next week’s league opener at title favourites Liverpool.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Lambert (Briggs 51), Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Gears (Achterhof 51), Galloway (Sharpe 51), Salicki, Christon, Roberts (Crosthwaite 79)
Durham subs: Reid