Beth Hepple’s fourth goal of the season saw Durham Women claim a well-deserved victory over London City Lionesses.
After weathering an early storm, the Wildcats dominated for large spells and were unlucky not to seal a greater margin of victory.
But as it was, Hepple’s sweetly-struck effort from the edge of the area was enough for the hosts.
Having beaten Lewes convincingly a fortnight ago, Durham were looking to make it two wins from two at their new home ground – but were pressed back by the Lionesses in the opening exchanges.
An early corner had to be scrambled away by the hosts before Liz Ejupi sent an effort comfortably wide from the edge of the area.
Lily Agg also came close with a dipping free-kick which dropped just over the crossbar as the Lionesses enjoyed the better of the early stages.
But Durham started to battle back and grew into the game, with good pressing from Molly Sharpe and Nicki Gears handing the latter a chance to lob Shae Yanez – who was caught off her line – only for the forward to see her strike drop narrowly wide.
Mollie Lambert and Emily Roberts both sent efforts narrowly wide as Lee Sanders’ side upped the ante and began to pile the pressure on their visitors.
The game started to become a more scrappy affair, with both teams putting in plenty of tasty challenges in a contest which was reminiscent to some of Durham’s battles with London City’s predecessors – Millwall.
Yet on the stroke of half-time, a moment of quality from Hepple handed the Wildcats a lead.
After a good move, the midfielder skipped past a challenge before sending a fine effort into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Durham began the second half in a similar vein, pressing high and forcing the Lionesses into a mistake.
Sharpe almost made it two after being played in on goal but sent her effort from 12 yards just over, while the Yanez did well to get behind a powerful Hepple free-kick.
The introduction of Bridget Galloway added some extra spark to the Wildcats’ front-line and the striker almost made an immediate impact after rounding Yanez and advancing on goal, only to be forced wide before firing into the side netting.
Tempers began to boil over as the Lionesses grew frustrated in their attempts to find an equaliser, with Durham’s backline doing an excellent job of keeping their opponents at bay.
Indeed, Megan Borthwick only had one real save to make – tipping Alli Murphy’s low free-kick around the post.
And after some fine game management from Durham, the three points were sealed – continuing the club’s unbeaten start to the season.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Lambert, Wilson, Robson, Sharpe (Galloway 64), Gears, Salicki, Christon, Roberts (Briggs 90)
Subs not used: Reid, Holmes