Durham Women were denied what would have been a richly-deserved three points by a late goal from Sheffield United.
Beth Hepple’s penalty had put the Wildcats in front and they had numerous chances to add to their lead – before Bex Rayner’s deflected effort levelled the scores in the final minutes.
Debuts were handed to Naoisha McAloon and Rio Hardy, and it was the hosts who began brightly with Mollie Lambert seeing an effort from range tipped wide by Fran Kitching.
Sarah Robson then curled over from range, before Durham had Kathryn Hill to thank as she superbly cleared a Courtney Sweetman-Kirk effort off the line.
But as the first period reached its halfway point, it was the Wildcats who opened the scoring – Hepple slotting home from the penalty spot after being clattered by Ellie Wilson.
That buoyed Durham, who then hit the woodwork twice in quick succession.
First Emily Roberts saw her cross deflect off the crossbar before Hardy then clattered the upright with a fine effort from the angle.
And the hosts picked up where they left off in the second half, with Hardy prodding agonisingly wide after being teed-up by Lambert.
Lauren Briggs then had to twice put her body on the line to deny Sweetman-Kirk and Sophie Bradley-Auckland, but it was Durham who continued to produce the best of the chances.
The Wildcats looked to have doubled their lead late on, when Hardy fired home after a free-kick, but the goal was chalked-out for offside.
And then came the sucker-punch – Rayner’s half-volley taking a wicked deflection and finding the corner.
It was all Durham late on, as they laid siege on the Sheffield goal, but there was to be no late twist.
Durham XI: McAloon, Hill, Briggs, Lambert, Wilson, Robson, Hepple, Hardy, Salicki, Roberts (Brown 77), Holmes (Ejupi 89)
Subs not used: Borthwick, Galloway, Bradley, Christon, Greenwood