REPORT: Sheffield United 0-1 Durham

Nicki Gears’ second half header saw Durham Women take the three points at Sheffield United.

The forward’s glancing header was the only goal in a game which had few real chances – and was a typical top of the table affair.

Both sides made changes from their last outing, with the Wildcats welcoming Molly Sharpe back into the fold.

And in a fairly even and well-contested start, the first two real chances fell to Durham.

First Mollie Lambert saw a sweetly-struck volley blocked by the head of Leandra Little, before Naomi Hartley slid in to block Sharpe’s goal-bound strike.

But Sheffield United would come closest to opening the scoring during a cagey opening half an hour – with Rhema Lord-Mears seeing a shot cannon back off the inside of the post before Mel Johnson’s follow-up was over.

Johnson would come close again moments later too, seeing a shot bravely blocked by the sliding Sarah Wilson before her second attempt flew narrowly wide.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the remainder of the half, with the Blades dominating possession and putting the Wildcats’ backline under some real pressure.

Durham rode the storm for the remainder of the half, but had to deal with more home pressure after the restart.

Beth Hepple was in the right place to hack a Lord-Mears shot away from danger as the Blades kept committing players forward.

Yet somewhat against the run of play, it was Durham who took the lead – Gears rising highest to nod home after Hepple’s free-kick was only palmed away into her path.

Gears would come close to a second shortly after too, seeing her effort hit the side netting after Hepple’s clever set.

Sharpe then flashed a shot wide of the far post but chances were at a premium in the dying minutes.

While Sheffield United looked to get forward, it was testament to Durham’s fine defending that Megan Borthwick remain relatively untroubled.

And thanks to some excellent game management, the Wildcats saw out the game and claimed three points on the road.

Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Briggs, Lambert, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Sharpe (Galloway 70), Gears (Lee 82), Christon, Roberts

Subs not used: Reid, Crosthwaite, Ayre, Greenwood

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