Oxford United were the opponents the first time I watched Durham Women. That was almost four years ago in June 2014. Of the starting XI, only Sarah Wilson and Beth Hepple were playing for Durham that day. Mind, Caroline Dixon and Lauren Jordinson were both in the starting XI that day and they’re still part of the squad now. Although it’s probably not as busy as it has been in previous years, I’ve still got a fair few games this Easter weekend. I’ve had a game on each of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and now that Redcar Races has been abandoned for tomorrow, I should have another two tomorrow as long as neither are postponed.
Durham Women held to draw by Oxford
Durham Women were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Oxford United Women on Sunday afternoon.
Jordan Atkinson had fired the Wildcats ahead, but Oxford debutant Immy Lancaster equalised before the break.
Durham dominated in the second half, but couldn’t find a winner and the points were shared.
Durham manager Lee Sanders opted to start with a back three – Kathryn Hill, Becky Salicki and Sarah Wilson.
Abi Cottam and Rachel Lee also started, with Annabel Johnson, Grace McCatty and Emily Roberts having to be content with a place on the bench.
Despite dominating possession in the opening minutes, it took Durham until the 12th minute mark to create a chance. Zoe Ness picked out Lee whose low ball found Atkinson. While off-balance, Atkinson attempted a first time shot from eight yards, but she totally miscued and the chance was gone.
Crosses from Atkinson and Cottam put pressure on the Oxford defence, but Demi Lambourne did well to make them hers.
Pressure continued to come from the Wildcats, but Oxford were defending resolutely.
In the 23rd minute, Beth Hepple registered a shot on target, but it was a comfortable catch for Lambourne.
With 25 minutes played, Oxford United created their first chance. Danielle Carlton whipped a dangerous free-kick into the area where Emily Allen flicked it towards goal. However, it was straight at Helen Alderson who saved.
A couple of Durham corners followed, before Ness fired just over from the edge of the penalty area with half an hour played.
In the 33rd minute, Durham took a deserved lead. Cottam burst down the wing before drilling a low cross into the penalty area. With Hepple letting it roll out to her, Atkinson took a touch before drilling the ball into the far bottom corner.
A fine save from Lambourne prevented Ness from doubling Durham’s lead in the 37th minute, before Hepple fired narrowly wide a minute later.
Durham looked to have doubled their lead when Lee prodded home from a Hepple free-kick in the 42nd minute, but the referee ruled it out for a foul on Lambourne.
With exactly 45 minutes played, Oxford United pulled level. Durham failed to deal with Sophie Baker’s cross, and substitute Lancaster was there to prod home.
Following the break, Ness and Hepple both had half chances, but neither could find the target.
In the 57th minute, Ness worked the ball out to Lauren Briggs, but she could only fire narrowly over.
With an hour on the clock, Carlton curled a dangerous Oxford free-kick not too far over Alderson’s goal, before Taome Oliver fired harmlessly wide.
Durham introduced Nicki Gears and Emily Roberts with just shy of half an hour to play, and the latter made an immediate impact.
Roberts’ trickery saw her beat Riva Casley before she was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Hepple took responsibility and curled it towards the far top corner, but a fine save from Lambourne kept Durham at bay.
The resulting corner dropped to Roberts at the back post, but the England U20 goalkeeper made another save.
Oxford seemed more than content with a point throughout the second half, and their resolute defending was making that more and more likely.
With quarter of an hour to play, Sarah Robson rose to meet a Hepple free-kick. However, Hannah Short did enough to put Robson off as she could only head wide.
Roberts stabbed a difficult effort wide in the 79th minute, before Gears’ effort was blocked.
A great chance to find a winner fell the way of Durham in the 90th minute. Roberts’ good work gave her room to cross, and she picked out Lee. Lee attempted a first time effort, but she could only slice well over.
Despite dominating much of the second half, Durham couldn’t find a winner and the points were shared.
Full-time: Durham Women 1-1 Oxford United Women
Next up for me is Hartlepool FC vs Hebburn Town Reserves in the Wearside League Cup final tomorrow.
Durham Women: Alderson, Salicki, Wilson (c), Hill, Atkinson (Roberts, 62′), Lee, Briggs, Robson, Cottam (Gears, 62′), Hepple, Ness
Unused subs: Borthwick, Johnson, McCatty, Christon, Bitzer
Oxford United Women: Lambourne (c), Franklin-Fraiture (Tilbury, 90+4′), Yorston (Lancaster, 7′), Casley, Hillman, Baker, Carlton, Allen, Oliver (Roberts, 90+1′), Noble, Short
Unused sub: Thomas
Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions
Teamsheet: Free with programme
Can of Coke: £1
Referee: Graeme Hopper