When it was announced a few week ago, I quite fancied Newcastle United vs Hellas Verona today. It was only £10 if you bought tickets in advance and I doubt I’ll get the chance to watch Hellas Verona very often. But, I knew Durham Women were playing Guiseley. That game would be easier to get to and cheaper and as I haven’t seen the Wildcats for a while, I decided to go to this game at Maiden Castle. Guiseley were promoted from Division One of the Premier League North last season (the fourth tier). They’ll play in the Premier Division of the Premier League in the upcoming season (the third tier) alongside the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough. That’s only one tier below Durham but as I’ve always said, the gaps in quality between the levels in the women’s game is massive. WSL2 to WSL1 is a very big jump, the Women’s Premier League to WSL 1 is a very big jump and even at county level to north-east regional level, it’s quite a big jump.
Durham Women cruise to pre-season victory over Guiseley
Durham Women continued their pre-season with an emphatic 7-0 win over Guiseley Vixens on Sunday afternoon.
In a game played with three 30 minute periods, Zoe Ness scored four while Jordan Atkinson also collected a brace and Nicola Worthington rounded off the scoring.
New signings Kathryn Hill and Worthington both started with Nicki Gears, Ness, Atkinson and Beth Hepple working the Guiseley defence.
Durham started well and created a first chance in the eighth minute when Caroline Dixon found Hill but her effort from 25 yards sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Gears and Hepple both had further efforts which were saved by the Guiseley goalkeeper before Ness broke the deadlock in the 14th minute. Good work from Worthington saw the former University of Bridgeport midfielder beat her marker to drill a low ball across the face of goal and Ness applied the finishing touch.
With quarter of an hour played, Hill’s superb ball found Hepple in the penalty area but her volley darted narrowly wide.
Looking to settle into the game, Guiseley started knocking the ball about with a bit of confidence and they won a corner in the 18th minute. The resulting corner wasn’t cleared and Megan Borthwick was forced into a brave save to prevent a poked effort.
In the 20th minute, Durham doubled their lead. Atkinson’s quick pass found Ness and the Scottish international made two mistake in finding the net from 12 yards.
Worthington side-footed over as the first third came to an end but there was still time for a third Durham goal. Hepple’s original effort was saved, but Atkinson was quickest to react and slotted home the rebound.
Following the first break, Durham made it 4-0 within 35 seconds of the restart. Atkinson collected possession in a wide position and her cross-cum-shot drifted over the ‘keeper to find the far corner.
Hill fired over soon after and this was followed by a quiet period where the visitors did well to null the Durham attackers.
Good link up play from the Yorkshire outfit created a chance in the 53rd minute but a powerful shot was fired straight at Borthwick.
Seconds later, Ness was prevented by a good save at the other end and she was back in the thick of the action again a minute later. Hepple delivered a pin-point cross to find Ness but her looping header failed to find the target.
Just before the second break, Mercy Darkoah linked up well with Hepple to find Ness and her drilled effort skimmed narrowly wide.
Durham quickly extended their lead early in the final half an hour. Gears switched gears to burst down the wing and pull a low ball back across goal where Ness obliged to collect her hat-trick.
And, a sixth followed three minutes later. Ness climbed highest to meet Hepple’s corner and she planted her header into the bottom corner for her fourth of the game.
Further Durham chances came, with Hepple’s shot being palmed onto the crossbar by the Guiseley goalkeeper.
Ness and Darkoah both had further shots saved before Worthington completed the scoring with Durham’s seventh. Atkinson’s work found Worthington and her original effort was deflected onto the post but she was on hand to tuck home the rebound.
Full-time: Durham Women 7-0 Guiseley Vixens
Next up for me is Whickham vs Easington Colliery on Tuesday.
Durham Women Starting XI: Borthwick, Hill, Wilson (c), Dixon, Johnson, Briggs, Worthington, Hepple, Atkinson, Ness, Gears