REPORT: Durham 1-1 Sheffield United

A debut goal from Ali Johnson helped Durham Women to a point against Sheffield United.

The visitors almost opened the scoring within the first minute when Rolandsen’s cross was met by Sweetman-Kirk from just 10 yards out.

Durham started the game on the back foot, with the Wildcats’ only chance being a shot from distance by Hepple, which was held by Kitching.

Sheffield United controlled the first half-hour, and capitalised on their dominance after 29 minutes. Sweetman-Kirk putting away her third clear-cut chance in 5 minutes.

Despite threatening very little, the hosts were on level terms three minutes later, when debutant Ali Johnson fired beyond Kitching from 25 yards out.

But Sheffield United responded strongly; if it wasn’t for superb defending from Hill putting her off, Sweetman-Kirk would have had her brace – but fired narrowly wide.

The Wildcats ended the first half the stronger of the two sides, and carried much more of a threat than at the beginning of the half.

Durham were almost rewarded for this pressure on the stroke of half-time, when Sharpe controlled Briggs’ cross brilliantly on her chest and fired a goal bound volley that Kitching managed to tip over the bar.

Durham started the second half with the same intensity as they ended the first.

Seven minutes into the second period, the Wildcats were almost ahead. Brown’s cross was not dealt with effectively by Kitching and Briggs’ subsequent header was cleared away by Little.

Despite Durham’s pressure, it was the visitors who came closest to taking the lead.

65 minutes into the game, Wilkinson got a shot away in the Durham box following a Sheffield United break away. Fortunately for the Wildcats, Borthwick superbly saved Wilkinson’s effort. 

Durham continued their search for a winner as the game wore on, but were largely forced to half-chances; both teams appeared to be cancelling out one another.

On the 78-minute mark the Wildcats had a clear sight of goal, but Hepple’s freekick from a dangerous area on the edge of the box failed to trouble Kitching.

With just five minutes to go, Durham again had a big chance, but Galloway could only flick Hepple’s free-kick inches over the bar.

Sheffield attempted to respond to the host’s pressure, but were limited to strikes from distance which failed to cause Borthwick many problems.

But it was Durham who dominated the closing stages, as they continued to probe, moving the ball to try and unlock a resilient Sheffield defence.

With less than a minute to play, Durham looked destined to edge their opponents, but Crosthwaite’s drilled cross went right across the face of goal, and no one could get the vital touch. 

Durham XI: Borthwick, Wilson (c), Hill, Salicki (Christon 58), Holmes, Robson, Briggs, Brown (Crosthwaite 88), Johnson, Hepple, Sharpe (Galloway 66)

Subs not used: Mackain, Lambert, Ayre, Greenwood, Lee

By Joe Nelson

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