Debut season to be proud of for unique Durham side

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Durham City, Co. Durham, England - 6th July 2014: Durham WFC v Liverpool Ladies FC, New Ferens Park, Duham, England. Photographer - George Ledger (George Ledger Photography)
Defender and post-grad scholar Caroline Dixon in possession

2014 saw Durham WFC compete in the first season of The FA Women’s Super League 2. With names such as Aston Villa, Watford, Sunderland not to mention Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton in the Continental Cup it was always going to be a season of learning.

The year started brightly with the newly formed squad taking part in the FA Cup and overcoming current Premier League holders Sheffield 3 – 1 at home as well as Chichester City before falling to a last minute goal to Portsmouth in the fifth round. A highlight already was that of Beth Hepple becoming FA Cup ‘player of the round’ for a 40 yard free kick v Sheffield, something that no other man or woman had won from the Durham FA area.

Quite surreal was the first game of the season and a local derby with Sunderland Ladies. New Ferens Park was to host the 1st ever FA WSL game in North East history. With a queue still present at KO time the players were narrowly defeated 4 – 2 against the recently crowned WSL2 champions in front of a fantastic crowd of 761 spectators.

It would be fair to say we all took time adjusting to the WSL and with only 1 win in the opening 9 games it was tough. However, against Liverpool and Manchester City we began to turn a corner with solid defensive displays for long periods followed on by a 0 – 0 draw with Doncaster Belles as the team became harder to break down.

We recruited Sarah Wilson and Jemma Purfield at this point in the season and, crucially, with the introduction of team captain and Durham student Caroline Dixon to partner Wilson at centre back alongside Jen King and Ellie Christon. This formidable back four would be key in the upturn in fortunes that followed.

With a solid platform to build on and with attacking flair in Zoe Ness, Beth Hepple, Jordan Atkinson, Beth Jennings & Jemma Purfield we started to score goals also, with one spectacular effort from Jordan Atkinson against Watford.

Four wins and two draws from our final nine games saw the girls finish the season in a very respectable sixth place, and with many admirers from all in the Women’s Super League.

As a unique, University supported club, we look to improve on this position next year. With the acquisition of Amelia Pereira, a Durham scholar and Portugal international signing for 2015, we want the support of as many Durham students as possible at our games. We charge £1.50 for Durham students at games and you can follow us on twitter @DurhamWFC or online www.durham.fawsl.com  for news of new signings and FA WSL2 season 2015 which will begin with the FA Cup in the first week of February.

Photograph: Durham Women’s Football Club

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