First-half goals from Ellie Christon and Bridget Galloway were enough to see off Lewes at Maiden Castle and send Durham to the top of the Championship.
Durham made three changes to the side who beat Bristol City last week with Danielle Brown, Dee Bradley and Christon coming in to the starting 11.
And it was the home side who started the game on the front foot – the always-lively Galloway beating a number of defenders before sliding an inviting cross across the face of goal, but no one was there to convert.
It was not long after that when Lauren Briggs’ cross was flicked on by Beth Hepple, leaving Christon buckets of time to fire the ball emphatically into the bottom corner.
Lewes struggled to get into the game following the Wildcats’ opener. Freda Ayisi always looked like she could cause Durham some problems, but she was well ushered out of the game by the solid back three of Sarah Wilson, Sarah Robson and Becky Salicki.
And Durham struck again on the brink of half-time. Leading-scorer Beth Hepple’s corner was met by the head of Robson and, following a goalmouth scramble, was eventually prodded in by Galloway. The scoreline at half-time reflected Durham’s dominance, but in truth, it could have been more.
The visitors posed more of a threat in the second half, but the resolute Durham defence never really looked like conceding. The Rooks’ best chance of the game came fifteen minutes from time when Kallie Balfour beat the offside trap only to fire her shot well wide.
It could easily have been three for Durham just a minute later. Hepple tried an audacious first-time chip of the Lewes ‘keeper from all of thirty-yards, only to see her lob come cannoning off the crossbar. The goal would have reflected an incredibly impressive performance from the Durham playmaker.
The Wildcats were able to see off the win comfortably, capping off yet another flawless defensive performance. The result makes it three wins and three clean sheets in a row for the table-toppers.
Palatinate spoke to goal scorer Christon after the game and she was delighted to keep the run going. “It’s good to keep the momentum going and keep a clean sheet for the third game in a row.
“It’s really good at this stage to be top. It’s early days but we just have to keep doing the right things and just keep getting clean sheets and the goals will come.”
Playing at right-back, Christon is not always the first name on the scoresheet. It was her first goal of the season, and she was relieved to see the ball hit the back of the net.
“It doesn’t happen very often! I was in the right place at the right time. We spoke about me being high up and ready for the drop downs if they do happen, and it did so I just got a good connection with it and thankfully it went in.”
Next up for the Wildcats is a short trip to local-rivals Sunderland. It is the first time Durham have met Sunderland in the league since their promotion from the National League North and Christon is relishing the match.
“We’re buzzing for it. It’s good to have someone so close rather than travel miles away, so it’s going to be a good one.
“We haven’t played them a lot in the past but we’re confident going into it that we’re going to get the three points.”
Durham’s next home match is a Continental Tyres Cup fixture against FA Women’s Super League team Manchester United. It promises to be a buzzing night under the lights at Maiden Castle and tickets are available on Durham Women’s website.
Durham XI: Borthwick, Briggs, Lambert, Wilson (c), Robson, Hepple, Galloway (Roberts 77’), Salicki, Christon (Holmes 70’), Brown (Johnson 77’), Bradley
Goals: Durham: Christon (16’) Galloway (40’)
Image: Craig McNair