Three goals in the final ten minutes saw Durham Women seal victory over Lewes – in what was the Wildcats’ first game at their new home of Maiden Castle.
Beth Hepple netted a brace before Emily Roberts sealed the win with a stunning solo strike in added time.
The Wildcats made three changes from the side that held Liverpool to a draw in their FA Women’s Championship opener, as Sarah Wilson, Lauren Briggs and Molly Sharpe came into the side.
And Durham began brightly, with a fine ball from Briggs allowing Abby Holmes the chance to cross – her delivery nodded over at the far post by Roberts.
Holmes then forced visiting stopper Tatiana Saunders into a smart save before Sharpe also stung the palms of the Lewes ‘keeper as Durham continued to apply the pressure.
Lewes looked a threat on the counter-attack, but struggled to test Megan Borthwick during a cagey first-half.
It was Durham asking most of the questions as the half drew to a close – Hepple sending an effort curling wide of the far post as the hosts poured forward in numbers.
And they almost took the lead with just three minutes of the first-half to play.
Hepple turned provider, picking out Ellie Christon who drove forward before sending a wicked 25-yard drive cannoning off the crossbar – with Saunders beaten.
The second half continued in much of the same vein as Durham continued to press forward, but struggled to unpick a stubborn Lewes’ backline.
The Rooks looked to play down the clock wherever possible but were still a threat on the break with the introductions of Katie Rood and Emma Jones adding some extra spark – and the latter forced Borthwick into a game save as the game entered its latter stages.
But with ten minutes left on the clock, it was to be Durham who a deserved lead.
After Holmes was felled in the box, Hepple stepped up to tuck her penalty into the bottom left corner,
And the midfielder would have her second of the game – and third of the season – moments later, in bizarre circumstances.
Hepple’s swung-in a corner which looked to be touched over the line by Wilson, and the offside flag was raised.
The referee, however, decided that the ball had crossed the line before Wilson’s touch and the goal was awarded.
And Durham weren’t done there – Roberts surging forward and taking on four Lewes players before sending a stunning curling effort into the top corner deep into injury.
That added some gloss to the Wildcats’ first win of the season – as Lee Sanders’ side started life at Maiden Castle in the perfect manner.
Durham: Megan Borthwick, Sarah Wilson, Kathryn Hill, Becky Salicki, Ellie Christon, Sarah Robson, Beth Hepple, Lauren Briggs, Abby Holmes, Molly Sharpe, Emily Roberts
Substitutes: Nicki Gears for Christon 63, Bridget Galloway for Sharpe 63, Mollie Lambert for Briggs 75
Substitute not used: Brooke Mackain
Goals: Hepple 75 (pen), 90+3, Roberts 90+4
Bookings: Wilson 61, Holmes 75