Wildcats through to FA Cup second round in style

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Durham Wildcats’ FA Cup journey has gathered significant momentum after an 8-0 demolition of California Ladies in the first round.

The fixture was postponed twice before Christmas due to the weather, so to ensure the game would go ahead in the new year it was switched from California’s Teesside base to Brewery Field, home of Spennymoor Town FC.

This was the scene for Durham’s dominant victory over Barnsley in the third qualifying round, and is now becoming something of a fortress for the Wildcats as their first round opponents were duly dispatched in similar style.

Coach Richard Warburton lamented the effect of the weather and the Christmas break on his team’s training in preparation for the tie, but any fears of a lethargic start were soon dispelled when after just five minutes a cross from Hannah Beard was diverted by a California defender into her own net.

The lively Beard then notched her first of the afternoon ten minutes later, finishing off a neat move involving Quinn, Stockdale and McLear in the middle of the park.

Durham’s thrilling start was nearly extended when Beard again caused chaos in the California box, winning a penalty that Stockdale was unfortunate not to convert.

Far from signalling a turn in fortunes, however, the miss seemingly spurred on the Wildcats, who tightened their grip and put the game out of sight by half-time through goals from McLear and another for the prolific Beard.

It was a dream 45 minutes for the Wildcats as they outclassed an industrious and hard-working California outfit, and they would have been forgiven for relaxing the tempo and seeing out the second half with minimal fuss.

Instead, much like in the second half against Barnsley, Durham maintained their high standards and displayed a priceless ruthless streak to further assert their dominance.

Two more goals from Hannah Beard, who represented Liverpool Ladies as a youngster, sandwiched a 20-yard wonder strike from Jess Quador and a goal for Gemma Nortcliffe.

Eight well-taken goals thus propelled Durham into the second round, where they will face Sheffield Wednesday Ladies, but Warburton was keen to compliment his team’s defence when reflecting on the comprehensive win.

“The back four deserve real praise today as they were put together last minute and handled all that California had to throw at them,” he said.

“Lorraine Quinn and Laura Stockdale showed their experience in midfield and the energy we showed in the wide areas made us a real threat,” he added.

“Praise has to also go to the young side from Teesside who stayed positive throughout and got the ball down and tried to play for the whole 90 minutes.”

The Wildcats don’t have long to wait for their second round fixture as they travel to Northern Combination leaders Sheffield Wednesday Ladies FC on Sunday, 15 January.

It will undoubtedly be their toughest challenge yet, but confidence should be sky-high after a momentous cup odyssey that so far has seen them score 21 goals and concede just one

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