Durham Women ground out an important 1-0 win over London City Lionesses on their return to FA Women’s Championship action.
Dee Bradley’s early header was enough for the Wildcats who were put under the cosh by their in-form visitors.
But a gritty and determined performance saw the hosts over the line after a frenetic and at times feisty encounter.
The Wildcats made three changes from the side that drew with Manchester United before the international break as Lauren Briggs, Ellie Christon and Bridget Galloway came back into the side.
And Galloway was at the heart of the game’s first real chance as she almost converted Sarah Robson’s cross – Lionesses stopper Shae Yanez having to punch behind.
The resultant corner would yield the opener for the Wildcats though, as Bradley glanced home Hepple’s delivery at close range.
That goal temporarily buoyed the hosts with Galloway seeing a shot well-blocked by Carly Girasoli after a spell of pressure.
But from then on out it was the Lionesses who enjoyed the better of play and they created some real chances.
First Rianna Jarrett saw an effort repelled by the legs of Megan Borthwick before the Durham stopper made a superb save to deny Brooke Nunn as she tipped her dipping effort onto the bar and away.
Durham were still a threat on the break and Galloway was inches away from connecting with Holmes’ low cross on the half hour.
London City continued to dominate the possession even if they weren’t seriously testing Borthwick – but the visitors were arguably lucky to end the half with a full compliment of players after Harley Bennett was only shown a yellow card despite bringing down Galloway when the striker was through on goal.
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first as London City saw most of the ball but struggled to break down a determined Durham rearguard.
In truth, there were few real chances to report – with one major opportunity apiece.
Robson prodded just wide for Durham shortly after the restart while Bennett sent a bullet header narrowly wide at the other end.
There was some last-ditch defending required late on – with Mollie Lambert making a superb block to deny Charlotte Fleming – but the Wildcats saw out another vital win.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Briggs, Lambert, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Galloway (Brown 74), Salicki (Hill 10), Bradley, Christon (Roberts 46), Holmes
Subs Not Used: Mackain, Johnson
Goals: Bradley 4
Yellow Cards: Salicki 10, Bradley 33, Briggs 86