Following the conclusion of the Spring Series, I’ve been looking forward to the WSL season. Durham today hosted a Tottenham Hotspur team who were playing in their first ever WSL game. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a great lot from Spurs. Sheffield FC were promoted two years ago and big things were expected but it didn’t really happen and it was the same last season with Brighton & Hove Albion. Tottenham were a good side today though and they should finish in the top five come the end of the season. For Durham, as the programme says, promotion has to be the aim this season. Other than possibly Doncaster Rovers Belles, Durham have the players and ability to beat any team in this league. I will still be going to all Durham Women games this season (except for the Sunderland Continental Cup game as we have a game at Easington) and I’ll get to a couple of Sunderland Ladies games. I might go to the Chelsea game next week but I’m not sure yet. A 19:30 kick-off is slightly better than 18:00 I suppose when they’re playing at South Shields. If I don’t get to the Chelsea game, I will get to a couple of games later in the season.
Tottenham taste defeat in WSL debut
Durham Women got their 2017-2018 WSL2 season off to a perfect start with a 2-1 win over newly-promoted Tottenham Hotspur Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
In front of a crowd of 617, goals from Beth Hepple and Nicki Gears gave the Wildcats a first three points of the season.
All three goals came within a four minute spell at the end of the first half with Hepple’s opener immediately being cancelled out by Bianca Baptiste.
However, Durham regained their lead less than two minutes later through Gears and Spurs were unable to find a second equaliser.
Durham manager Lee Sanders named a starting XI which gave a competitive debut to Kathryn Hill. Zoe Ness was supported by Gears and Hepple in attack, while Sarah Wilson and Caroline Dixon took the centre-back partnership.
Looking to make an impression on the WSL, Tottenham started well and won two corners within the opening couple of minutes but Durham were able to clear.
With the first shot of the game, Tottenham’s Sarah Wiltshire did well to cut in from the wing but the former Yeovil Town midfielder couldn’t find the target with a low shot.
With the majority of the early possession, Tottenham were looking dangerous and the lively Baptiste won the visitors a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 11th minute. Jenna Schillaci took responsibility and her dipping effort forced a save from Helen Alderson.
Further Tottenham corners followed before Durham had Alderson to thank once again. Baptiste played a clever through ball to Wiltshire but her effort was saved by the former Sunderland goalkeeper.
With Durham’s first half chance, Hill drilled a long-range effort harmlessly wide before Rachel Lee’s free-kick was flicked on by Wilson to find Jordan Atkinson who fired narrowly wide.
Durham were growing into the game at this point and Lee had an effort herself which sailed over the bar in the 24th minute.
However, Tottenham’s threat was still present with both Wiltshire and Sophie McLean going close as time wore on.
Just two minutes before the break, Hepple broke the deadlock to put the Wildcats ahead. A couple of minutes after Ness had fired over, the ball fell to Hepple on the edge of the penalty area and her powerful low effort darted into the bottom corner with Tori-Anne Wayne rooted to her spot.
A Tottenham response was immediate. Good work from Baptiste down the right saw her cut in and curl an effort towards the far back post. Alderson was unable to reach the ball and it found the far corner to the delight of the travelling support.
That wasn’t it for the first half though as a third goal in four minutes saw Durham regain their lead. Emily Roberts surged into the Tottenham half and eventually picked out Gears with a pass. Gears looked and slotted home from 12 yards.
Tottenham had the ball in the net within three minutes of the restart. Wendy Martin had guided the ball home following a free-kick but she was ruled offside and the goal didn’t count.
Wayne was forced into a brave save to prevent Roberts from doubling Durham’s lead not long before the hour mark before she was relieved to see Atkinson’s long-range effort blaze well over the crossbar.
Hepple curled a dangerous free-kick over the bar before the game was halted due to substitutions.
Dixon headed wide for the Wildcats before substitute Abi Cottam almost doubled the lead. Lauren Briggs’ superb ball found the former West Brom forward and her effort beat the ‘keeper only to be cleared off the line.
Hannah MacKenzie went close for the visitors with a 30-yard power drive after good build up play between McLean and Lauren Pickett but Alderson did well to save.
Despite probably edging the game, Tottenham were unable to find an equaliser and Durham claimed the three points.
Full-time: Durham Women 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur Ladies
Next up for me is probably Sunderland RCA vs Morpeth Town on Tuesday.
Durham Women: Alderson, Wilson (c), Dixon, Johnson, Hill, Lee, Hepple, Gears (Briggs, 74′), Atkinson (Cottam, 66′), Ness (Worthington, 83′), Roberts
Unused subs: Christon, Borthwick
Tottenham Hotspur Ladies: Wayne, Leon (McKenzie, 73′), Hector, Schillaci (c), Neville, Baptiste, McLean, Green, Haines (Pickett, 66′), Martin (Humes, 66’), Wiltshire
Unused sub: Morgan
Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions
Referee: Helen Conley