REPORT: Durham 3-1 Blackburn Rovers

Durham Women ended 2021 on a high note after victory over Blackburn Rovers.

The Wildcats were dominant throughout and reacted well to Ellie Leek’s early goal against the run of play – with an Abby Holmes brace and Becky Salicki’s strike securing victory.

There was just one change from the side that beat Leeds United last weekend as Holmes replaced Emily Roberts, and the Wildcats picked-up where they left-off and began on the front foot.

Mollie Lambert saw a powerful early effort pushed wide by Alex Brooks before Bridget Galloway saw a low strike held.

But in their first real foray forward, Blackburn took the lead – Leek scrambling the ball home after some confusion at the back.

Durham weren’t deterred though, and almost equalised within seconds after Lambert sent a looping shot narrowly over the bar.

And an ideal chance to level came on 16 minutes when Galloway was brought down in the box, with referee Stacey Fullicks awarding the penalty.

But Beth Hepple’s effort from 12 yards came back off the post, before Dee Bradley saw an effort ruled out for offside just moments later.

The Wildcats were pushing and probing but it looked as if the fates were conspiring against them – until Holmes took matters into her own hands.

After a barn-storming run from her own half, the left-back unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner to bring the hosts level.

And Durham could have been ahead before the break, Lambert striking the post after a slick counter-attacking move.

A second goal would come just moments after the second half began though – Holmes bundling home from close range after Brooks spilled a dinked cross.

It was one-way traffic, with Helen Seed doing well to nod a goalbound effort from Lauren Briggs off the line as the Wildcats poured forward.

It seemed only a matter of time until a third goal came, and so it did on the hour mark as Salicki peeled away from her marker and spectacularly volleyed home from Hepple’s corner.

There were plenty of further chances to extend the lead – the tireless Galloway sending a looped cross from Sarah Robson narrowly wide and Hepple seeing a header flash just over the bar.

But three would be enough as the Wildcats secured a vital three points.

Durham XI: Borthwick, Briggs, Lambert, Robson (Hill 84), Hepple, Galloway, Salicki, Bradley (Greenwood 90), Christon, Brown (Roberts 76), Holmes

Durham Subs Not Used: Mackain, Wilson, Nicholson, Crosthwaite, Ayre

Goals: Holmes 38 & 46, Salicki 60

Yellow Card: Salicki 63, Holmes 74

Attendance: 708

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