“We can be ten times better”: Durham Women 2-3 Crystal Palace


In their first game of the new year, Durham’s bid for promotion was scuppered by Crystal Palace as the Eagles soared to a hard-fought 2-3 victory at Maiden Castle.

The in-form visitors, who have won four of their last five league games, continued their impressive run of form with their second victory over the Wildcats this season.

The result meant Palace drew level on points with Durham but leapfrogged them to reach third in the table, hoping to close the gap on league-leaders Liverpool.

With their fixture against Lewes postponed last weekend, Durham’s energetic approach and pressing set-up often quelled Palace’s attempts to pass the ball out from the back.

Just seven minutes after the midday kick-off, Durham got off to a dream start. After a storming run into the box, Abby Holmes’ rebounded shot was converted by top scorer Beth Hepple. 

Durham started as they meant to go on with chances from both Hepple and Dee Bradley being tipped beyond the woodwork by Palace’s impressive 19 year-old keeper Emily Orman.

However, despite creating numerous chances, the lack of end product soon came to haunt the Wildcats. Their usually-effective high press was unravelled when, in the fourteenth minute, Palace launched their first counter attack.

Former Durham player Molly Sharpe proved clinical, steering a loose ball beyond Megan Borthwick into the bottom right corner before celebrating with the travelling fans.

Despite the set-back, some excellent vision from centre back Sarah Robson released Hepple and Holmes, winning a series of free kicks and corners which again came to no avail.

To add to Durham’s mounting frustration, the game was turned on its head in the 31st minute when Lizzie Waldie landed a header at the back post to give Palace an unexpected lead.

The Eagles’ second goal seemed to spur Durham into action and, just four minutes later, Kathryn Hill stabbed home an equaliser following a corner delivered by Hepple.

Hill was again called into action when her last-ditch tackle proved her defensive prowess and ensured that the scores remained tied as the teams headed in for half time.

Although Durham appeared to end the first half as the more spirited side, a double substitution for Palace – bringing on Hannah Churchill and Kirsty Barton – provided some vital fresh legs and stability in the midfield.

Fans didn’t have to wait long for the deadlock to be broken when a rare defensive Durham error saw a low cross zip across the six yard box and finished by the waiting Siobhan Wilson.

Having been plagued by injury, Liz Ejupi made her return and looked to immediately equalise with an ambitious Beckham-esque halfway line shot straight from kick off. The crowd held their breath in anticipation as the ball dropped just inches over the crossbar.

Despite a few more glimpses at goal thanks to Hepple’s set piece deliveries, the team were indebted to Borthwick after some fearless saves and Durham’s play lacked the same fluency they showed in the first 45 minutes.

However, despite the disappointing scoreline, fans of the Wildcats will be encouraged by the introduction of striker Rio Hardy – signed in the January transfer window from Coventry United – whose link-up play with Ejupi proved a nuisance to the Palace defence.

The Wildcats hope to revitalise their dreams of reaching the coveted promotion spot

Speaking to Palatinate after the match, captain Beth Hepple spoke on why the game slipped out of Durham’s reach. “We knew this was going to be a tough game and we are really disappointed that we haven’t capitalised on chances, personally I had chances I should have taken in the first half but that’s football.

“We weren’t clinical enough, maybe lacking a bit of energy in the second half but again that comes down to us, we know we can be ten times better than what we showed today.”

On the manner in which the goals were conceded, Hepple assessed, “I think they are a counter-attacking team that’s how they score goals – they did that against us last time and we knew that threat, so it’s disappointing we haven’t stopped that.

“I thought Crystal Palace were ruthless but I felt that we had better chances in the game and it’s just down to us not taking them, that’s why we didn’t win the game.”

However, the captain reflected positively on the additions to the squad. “Liz has been injured for a while so it’s nice to have her back and she brings such a different element being in the number 9. And obviously Rio’s a brilliant player and it’s only exciting for players like me, playing with them, so hopefully they’ll get on the score sheet soon.”

Defender Becky Salicki also contemplated the game on social media, citing the Palace match as one of the “awful lows” of her Durham career. However, she assured fans that, “we are building something exciting and it might not be falling our way just yet but we will be working harder than ever together to get to where we want to be!”

The Wildcats hope to revitalise their dreams of reaching the coveted promotion spot in their league clash against Sheffield United this Sunday at Maiden Castle.

Durham XI: Borthwick, Hill, Briggs, Lambert, Robson, Hepple, Galloway (Ejupi 46), Salicki, Bradley, Brown (Hardy 69), Holmes (Christon 87)

Crystal Palace XI: Orman, Johnson, Pearse, Waldie, Cowan, Wilson, Everett (Churchill 46), Mclean (Barton 46), Haines, Farrow (Baptiste 67), Sharpe (Clifford 92)

Image: Durham Women Football Club

2 thoughts on ““We can be ten times better”: Durham Women 2-3 Crystal Palace

  • Amazing first article from a budding new writer! Keep up the good work kiddo!

  • Amazing article – I enjoy football!


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