REPORT: Crystal Palace 0-1 Durham

Mollie Lambert’s first-half goal was enough for Durham to take victory from Crystal Palace.

The midfielder struck her first for the club to seal the three points at Hayes Lane, while the Wildcats were forced to play out the final stages with ten players after Lauren Briggs was dismissed.

Lee Sanders handed a full debut to Danielle Brown while Becky Salicki was also handed a first start since October having returned from injury.

And the Wildcats had to show their defensive mettle in the early stages as they soaked up a great deal of pressure from the hosts.

An early string of set-pieces were dealt with by Durham while Kathryn Hill put her head where it hurt to stop Bianca Baptiste’s acrobatic effort.

Chances kept coming for the hosts as Natkiel mis-kicked in the box after a loose ball fell kindly for her, before a combination of Megan Borthwick and Sarah Wilson slid in to block Cherelle Khassal’s effort after a scramble in the area.

But despite having to defend for much of the half, it was the visitors who took the lead – as Lambert fired home from the edge of the box after a good counter-attack, which saw Beth Hepple and Danielle Brown break at speed.

It could have been two moments later as Bridget Galloway found some space on the right and sent a low cross in the area, which Amber Stobbs pinched from the toe of Emily Roberts.

Palace end the half strongly with another spell of set pieces, but Durham held firm and again put their bodies on the line to ensure their lead was retained at the break.

The second half was similar to the first in that clear-cut chances were few and far between.

Hepple saw an early shot saved from inside the box before Galloway fired wide from a similar distance.

Palace pushed forward as the half wore on and were given extra wind for their sails after Briggs was sent-off for a second booking.

The hosts shad chances, with substitute Siobhan Wilson sending an effort wide before stinging the palms of Borthwick moments later.

At the other end, Roberts forced Morgan into a good save after cutting into the area.

But it was Palace who did all the pressing in the final stages as they looked to make their numerical advantage count.

And they arguably should have levelled late on when Ashlee Hincks broke into the area and struck the bar.

That was to be the final chance, as Durham took home a hard-earned three points.

Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Briggs, Lambert, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Galloway, (Gears 77) Salicki, Roberts (Bradley 90), Brown (Christon 82)

Subs not used: Mackain, Sharpe

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