Durham Women were denied what would have been a well-deserved result at Everton in their final Continental Tyres Cup outing.
The Wildcats more than matched their top tier opponents and arguably had the better chances – but it was the Toffees who sealed victory after Toni Duggan swept home from inside the area, with play failing to be stopped for two head injuries.
Durham again used the competition as a chance to hand opportunities to youth with Brooke Mackain, Grace Ayre and Lily Crosthwaite all given starts.
And it was the visitors who carved out the first chance of the game with Mollie Lambert seeing a powerful drive from the angle tipped wide.
Abby Holmes then came close with a similar sight of goal after bursting into the box, before Dee Bradley saw an effort hacked off the line following a goalmouth scramble.
The American would then drill over after Everton failed to fully clear a cross, with Durham putting the home goal under serious pressure for much of the first half.
Mackain did have to make a couple of saves – denying Duggan and Izzy Christiansen – but was relatively untroubled in the first half.
And that pattern continued after the interval with the Wildcats asking most of the questions.
Beth Hepple sent an effort from range over the bar before Holmes again came close, firing wide at the back post.
The introductions of Lucy Graham and Kenza Dali sparked Everton into life and the former hit the woodwork with a cushioned volley in a rare chance for the hosts.
But somewhat against the run of play, it was the Toffees who took the lead.
After jumping for a header two players went down, but play wasn’t stopped and Duggan fired home. A long period of deliberation followed, before the goal was given.
The Wildcats weren’t deterred though and had some golden chances late on – Emily Roberts skewing a shot wide after a lengthy run before the winger turned provider and fed in Lambert, who curled narrowly wide.
Mackain made one stunning late save to deny Graham, but Everton failed to forge many real chances despite their possession.
And despite some late endeavour from Durham, there was to be no leveller.
Durham XI: Mackain, Hill (Christon 71), Lambert, Robson, Hepple, Galloway (Roberts 65), Crosthwaite (Greenwood 80), Bradley, Brown, Ayre (Briggs 65), Holmes
Sub not used: Borthwick
Booking: Hill 48