REPORT: Durham 2-1 Watford

Durham Women kicked-off their 2021/22 season with a win over Watford.

In front of a vocal crowd of 667, the Wildcats raced into a half-time lead courtesy of Lauren Briggs and Beth Hepple.

But the Hornets rallied after the interval and came back into the game courtesy of Flo Fyfe’s stunner from distance.

There was some late pressure from the visitors, but Durham saw it out well to claim victory.

The Wildcats made just one change from the win over Newcastle United last week as Liz Ejupi came in for Bridget Galloway.

And it was the hosts who started brightly, with Sarah Robson firing narrowly over after seizing on a loose pass.

Durham wouldn’t have to wait long to take the lead though, as Briggs reacted quickest to turn home after Hepple’s curler struck the woodwork.

Hepple then sent another effort just wide of the goal before visiting stopper Georgie Ferguson did well to claim a cross before Roberts could connect at the back post.

Ejupi then sent a stinging effort at the Watford goalkeeper as Durham kept up the pressure – and the side would get a deserved second before the break.

Robson weaved her way to the byline before squaring for Hepple to tap home from close range.

Becky Salicki sent a header wide from a corner in the final action of the half, with Watford a much-improved proposition following the restart.

But there will still chances for Durham – Ejupi drilling at Ferguson before the striker teed-up Briggs who drilled wide.

The next goal seemed crucial – and it was Watford who got it when Fyfe lofted the ball home from range.

Substitute Corrine Henson then forced Megan Borthwick into a low stop as the Hornets began to ask more questions of their hosts.

A glorious chance came just shy of the 70 minute mark as Anne Meiwald headed against the post before the attack was kept alive, with Rosie Kmita firing over at the back stick.

It was Watford who saw most of the ball late on but they struggled to forge any real chances – and indeed, both Hepple and substitute Galloway could have won it late on as they warmed the gloves of Ferguson.

But as it was, two goals were enough for Durham as they began the season with three points.

Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Briggs (Holmes 71), Lambert (Brown 88), Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Salicki, Christon (Galloway 88), Roberts (Bradley 61), Ejupi (Johnson 88)

Subs not used: Mackain, Crosthwaite, Achterhof

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