Durham Women secured their highest-ever league finish and points total – courtesy of a strong win over Coventry United.
Durham set the tone early on and almost went ahead within the first minute, when Sarah Wilson’s header cannoned back off the post following a corner.
Just two minutes later, The Wildcats then did take the lead when another Hepple corner was met by Hill, who prodded home.
And with just six minutes on the clock, Durham extended their lead to two – Crosthwaite, making her first start for Durham, brilliantly worked the ball down the right and pulled it back for Sharpe to finish clinically.
But Coventry responded just minutes later, with Toussaint cutting in on the right and finishing calmly into the bottom corner.
The first 10 minutes of the game were end to end, and Galloway almost restored the two-goal cushion for Durham on nine minutes – but her shot was saved well by Wood in the Coventry goal.
Then the visitors were almost level on 13 minutes, but Dermody’s dangerous cross from the right couldn’t be turned goalward by Morris.
After the manic opening exchanges, the game settled into a competitive affair in the first half, producing only a handful of clear-cut chances.
On the 29th minute, another dangerous corner for the Wildcats caused issues in the Coventry box, but Robson’s header flew narrowly over the bar.
But on the half-hour mark, Durham restored their two-goal cushion, and Crosthwaite again was involved. The debutant played a lovely ball through to Hepple, who lifted the ball over Wood to return to the scoresheet.
Durham continued to apply pressure on the Coventry defence, and on the stroke of half time they went 4-1 up. Hepple cut in onto her left and unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top corner, putting the Wildcats firmly in the driving seat.
Durham continued to apply pressure after the break, but early in the half Galloway and Sharpe couldn’t quite turn their chances goalward.
The game started to settle back down before Galloway unleashed a stunning volley into the top corner to make it five.
Moments later, Coventry responded and almost had their second of the game – but Borthwick superbly turned Wilcox’s strike from distance wide of the goal.
Despite the score line, the Wildcats never looked like becoming complacent.
And on 72 minutes, when Hepple’s free kick wasn’t cleared far enough by a Coventry defender, Galloway pounced to tap home her second, and Durham’s sixth, of the game.
With just under 15 minutes remaining, Holmes was almost on the scoresheet following some beautiful football by the hosts, but her shot was saved by Wood.
But nine minutes later, Holmes made no mistake, cutting in from the right and firing the ball beyond Wood to make it seven for the Wildcats.
This emphatic win rounded off what has been an incredibly impressive season for the Wildcats – and cemented second place.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill (Salicki 67), Briggs (Holmes 67), Lambert, Wilson (c), Robson (Bradley 67), Hepple (Lee 79), Sharpe (Johnson 57), Galloway Crosthwaite (Brown 57), Christon
Durham subs not used: Mackain, Greenwood, Ayre
By Joe Nelson