There were a lot of unknowns about the Women’s Championship going into this season. How good will the new teams be? How competitive will it be? Will Manchester United run away with it? So far, Durham have answered all the threats that the new teams have. I had actually watched them prior to playing in the Championship, but of the three new teams I’ve seen so far (Charlton, Crystal Palace and Lewes), Charlton are definitely the best team. They gave Durham a very good game a couple of months ago and to be honest, Durham have been comfortable winners against Palace and Lewes. Obviously, it’ll be very tough when Manchester United go to New Ferens Park, but there’s no reason why Durham can’t take points from the rest of the new teams in the league. Lewes are a club I’ve never had anything to do with. I’ve never watched or contemplated watching their senior non-league men’s team, I’ve never seen their women’s teams or any of their youth teams. That’s probably mainly because they’re based in East Sussex and their men’s senior team play in the Isthmian League!
Durham Women hit Lewes for five
Durham Women cruised to an impressive 5-0 win over Lewes FC on Sunday afternoon.
Abi Cottam netted a first half hat-trick in only 11 minutes for the Wildcats, and that was only after Becky Salicki and Zoe Ness had put Durham in a commanding lead.
The second half was a non-affair in truth, with Durham content with five.
The win takes Durham to within three points of league leaders Tottenham Hotspur.
A scrappy opening saw Lewes create the first chance. Victoria Carleton’s cross picked out the unmarked Danielle Lane, but her header was straight at Hannah Reid.
Following a below par opening five minutes, Durham started to take control. Sarah Wilson had a 20-yard effort blocked, before a curling Beth Hepple free-kick just say failed to find the target in the seventh minute.
Five minutes later, the Wildcats created their best chance to date. Good work from Emily Roberts saw the former Notts County winger play in Abby Holmes. Holmes’ effort was well saved by Nina Wilson, and Cottam couldn’t find the target with the rebound.
Ness fired wide on the quarter of an hour mark, before Durham took the lead in the 18th minute. Hepple’s inswinging corner wasn’t dealt with by Wilson, and the towering Salicki was there to head home.
Just one minute later, Durham’s lead was doubled. A superb one-two between Roberts and Rachel Lee played Roberts in on goal. She unselfishly squared the ball to Ness whose simple finish doubled Durham’s lead.
And a third was soon to follow. A deep Salicki free-kick had the Lewes defence static as they anticipated goalkeeper Wilson collecting the ball. Wilson did come out for it, but she wasn’t as quick as Cottam who flicked the ball over Wilson and into the net.
A fourth goal in only seven minutes saw Cottam collect her second in the 25th minute. A free-flowing move saw Roberts burst into the penalty area and she squared the ball to Cottam who slotted home.
The 417 strong crowd had to wait a while for Durham’s fifth – eight minutes. It came when Holmes burst down the wing and picked out Cottam with a cross and a powerful header sealed Cottam’s hat-trick.
That proved to be it for the first half as a ruthless Durham went into the break five to the good.
A half chance fell the way of Roberts early in the second half, but her effort trickled wide.
Substitute Lewes goalkeeper Faye Baker was forced into an unorthodox save in the 52nd minute. Hepple’s awkward free-kick bounced right in front of Baker, who stayed upright and saved with her legs.
Sarah Robson volleyed a Salicki free-kick over the crossbar in the 63rd minute, before Reid’s save prevented Carleton at the other end.
A glancing Salicki header failed to find the target in the 72nd minute, before brave goalkeeping from Baker prevented Nicki Gears.
Sarah Kempson fired well over for the visitors in the 78th minute.
Five minutes later, a fortunate bounce off Hepple’s face gave Roberts a chance, but her effort couldn’t find the target.
Lewes could have netted a consolation with the last chance. A scramble in the area eventually found Kempson, but her effort failed to trouble Reid.
Full-time: Durham Women 5-0 Lewes FC Women
Next up for me is probably Chester-le-Street Town vs Brandon United on Tuesday.
Durham Women: Reid, Christon, Holmes, Wilson (c), Salicki, Robson (Knott, 67′), Lee (Dixon, 67′), Hepple, Cottam (Gears, 53′), Roberts, Ness
Unused sub: Borthwick
Lewes FC Women: Wilson (Baker, 46′), Boswell, Robert, Thompson-Agbro, Wells, Rutherford, Carleton, McIntyre, Kempson, Lane, Quayle (Carter, 67′)
Unused subs: Owen, Maloney, Paye
Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions
Referee: Adam Williamson