There’s always a slight problem on a sunny winter afternoon at Durham Women. If you stand on the far side (where I normally do), you get a good view of the pitch in the sun. But, if the sun is constant, you can barely see without sunglasses. The other option is the stand. You’re protected from the sun there, but it’s about 5 degrees colder and is like a different climate! With this result today, I couldn’t ask for much more from this weekend! Easington won 7-2 yesterday, and then Durham Women beat Manchester United 3-1 today. Perfect! On Friday, I was at Sedgefield Races. It was a rather average day at the races, but a bloke dressed as a turkey won the Christmas jumper competition. Does dressing as a turkey count as a Christmas jumper? I’ll let you ponder on that.
Durham Women claim historic win over Manchester United
Durham Women claimed a historic 3-1 win over Manchester United Women at New Ferens Park on Sunday afternoon.
In front of a record crowd of 912, the Wildcats inflicted a first ever league defeat on the Red Devils.
Goals from Becky Salicki, Beth Hepple and Zoe Ness ensured Durham of the historic win, while Manchester’s only response came through an Ella Toone goal.
Nicki Gears was handed a start for Durham, as was recent signing Lisa Robertson meaning Ness and Ellie Christon had to be content with a place on the bench.
Although it was a quiet start, Gears fired wide inside the opening two minutes for Durham.
Manchester United were attacking constantly in the opening 10 minutes, but Durham were defending well.
Mollie Green shot wide for Man United, before Hepple’s effort at the other end was saved by Siobhan Chamberlain.
The best chance to date came with just over quarter of an hour played. A Manchester United cross was cleared as far as Toone, whose sweetly struck half volley forced a good save from Hannah Reid.
Having been positive, Durham took the lead in the 22nd minute. Hepple whipped a teasing free-kick into the penalty area and Salicki stuck out a boot to turn it into the bottom corner.
The visitors looked for an immediate response, and it almost came when the ball dropped to Charlie Devlin six yards out. However, she could only blaze over.
Toone was next to try her luck but failed to find the target, before a Kirsty Smith effort was blocked.
Just a couple of first half minutes remained when Manchester United pulled level. Sarah Wilson looked to head clear a long ball, but her header went back towards her own goal. Toone latched onto it, and the former Manchester City forward finished well.
Following the break, a couple of dangerous crosses came into both penalty areas, but the defences dealt with them.
Durham could have regained their lead 10 minutes into the second half. Rachel Lee’s cross picked out Gears, but her header darted agonisingly wide.
And, Gears went close again just a minute later with a good Chamberlain save preventing the former West Alabama forward.
In the 57th minute, Green’s handball in the penalty area gave Durham a penalty. After confusion with the referee, Hepple eventually stepped home and tucked the ball into the corner to regain the Wildcats’ lead.
United went in search of another response, but their chances were limited.
Kirsty Hanson fired wide with a half chance in the 65th minute, before Jess Sigsworth’s effort also failed to find the target.
With 20 minutes to play, Green fired a long-range dipping effort just over the bar for the Red Devils.
A host of substitutions slowed the game down, and that was certainly working in Durham’s favour.
A couple of United corners came to nothing, before Katie Zelem fired a good opportunity over the crossbar.
In the 88th minute, Durham wrapped up the historic win. A poor Man United corner was picked up by Kathryn Hill who drove forward. She played a ball over to the free Ness, and the Scotland international did well to weave a way into the penalty area before a cool finish doubled Durham’s advantage.
The win is one that will go down in the history books, and it will be remembered for a long time at New Ferens Park.
The win takes Durham to within one point of United.
Full-time: Durham Women 3-1 Manchester United Women
Next up for me is probably Sunderland vs Walsall on Tuesday night.
Durham Women: Reid, Hill, Holmes, Wilson (c), Salicki, Robertson, Lee (Ness, 74′), Robson, Hepple, Roberts (Dixon, 90′), Gears (Christon, 79′)
Unused subs: Ryan, Borthwick, Knott
Manchester United Women: Chamberlain, Smith, Amy Turner, Millie Turner, Greenwood (c), Zelem, Green, Toone (James, 71′), Hanson (Galton, 78′), Devlin, Arnot (Sigsworth, 46′)
Unused subs: Harris, Ramsey, Palmer, Hartley
Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions
Referee: Paul Brown