By Abi Curran
Durham lost 2-0 to Liverpool in what was a physical game with goals from Leanne Kiernan and Taylor Hinds.
The top of the table meeting between the two sides fell on Women’s Football Weekend, a chance for teams across the Women’s Super League and the Championship to showcase their talent through coverage from Sky Sports, the BBC, and The FA Player.
If you’re a Liverpool fan, your club would have been kind enough to rally away support through the funding of three coaches driving from Merseyside to Maiden Castle.
Durham drew their own support to pack the stand on Remembrance Sunday – a crowd of 1,139 went through the turnstiles making it a record league attendance for the home side.
Of course, there is a long way to go in the Championship season, Durham are hopeful of promotion and were hoping to bounce back after a defeat against Crystal Palace on the road.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ echoed around the ground at the signal of kick-off and seemed to immediately spur the Reds on. Taylor Hinds looked particularly dangerous making run after run down the left-hand side, causing Durham some serious problems.
The Wildcats opened with a back five, hoping to utilise the attacking potential of fullbacks Abby Holmes and Ellie Christon but this seemed to leave gaps for Liverpool who unleashed their own attacking vigour down the wings.
Kathryn Hill was forced off in the 21st minute after a high tackle from Kiernan – another worry for Durham who are already flooded with injury woes. Earlier on, defender Sarah Robson had to pull out due to injury in the warmup despite being named in the starting XI.
The cry from the bench was for Durham to press higher up the pitch and, in swapping defender Hill for striker Galloway, the forward immediately made impact up top putting pressure on Liverpool defenders in their own third.
Durham then reverted to a back four which closed the gaps and, after some last ditch defending, the Wildcats entered halftime with a hard-fought 0-0 scoreline.
The Wildcats created a few half chances in the opening 45 and asked some questions of the Liverpool defence with some excellent running from Emily Roberts, but nothing really troubled Rachael Laws in the Liverpool net. Headers and crosses were all safely caught by the Reds’ keeper.
It was Durham who would go into the second half the more sprightly of the two sides. Laws needed to really be on her toes this time. The link-up play between Holmes, Roberts, and Beth Hepple was starting to cause Liverpool some problems.
Fans held their breath when Laws finally spilled a low cross into the box by Roberts but Galloway could not convert – a moment which perhaps vented the frustrations of Durham’s entire day.
The deadlock was broken when it was Liverpool’s turn to enter the Durham half on the front foot. After a couple of corners applying pressure, a Rhiannon Roberts cross was met by the palms of Megan Borthwick. In a moment of fortune the ball fell to Leanne Kiernan who poached the opportunity into the back of the net.
Five minutes later, it was Taylor Hinds who headed home – a deserved goal for her performance all game. Roberts, again, made the assist.
Being 2-0 down with ten minutes to go, it was hard for Durham to ever get a real grip on the game again. The Wildcats will be disappointed with two important moments which knocked them off top spot in the Championship.
Speaking to Palatinate after the game, captain Sarah Wilson spoke of her frustrations. “It’s tough because obviously it was a massively anticipated game, we knew it was going to be tough from the get-go.
“We sat off a bit which is a little bit frustrating and in the second half, we took the game to them. It was frustrating to concede the goals the way in which we did when I felt we were on top of the game”
On the impact that injuries have had on the squad, Wilson said that it was “Massive. There are no other words to describe it.
“That’s football and we’ve just had to deal with it and I think we dealt with it pretty well, considering everything.”
On the two goals, Wilson assessed, “I believe we played alright, it was just individual errors that cost us and that’s the frustrating thing. But I know that we’ll just regroup and do everything together and come back fighting next week.”
Durham now sit two points behind Liverpool in the league. They face Leicester at Maiden Castle in the Continental Tyres Cup on Wednesday but all eyes will be on Coventry in the league next Sunday.
The Wildcats’ promotion battle will certainly have many twists and turns as the season progresses with many games to go as we approach the halfway stage.
Despite their injury concerns and unfortunate results in the past couple of fixtures, Wilson and the rest of Durham Women know that they will “come back fighting and absolutely raring to go” in their upcoming games.
Image: Durham Women FC