Durham got back to winning ways with a convincing win over Watford in the early kick-off before Tottenham Hotspur, Millwall Lionesses and Sheffield held onto one goal leads against the London Bees, Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa whilst Oxford United held the Doncaster Belles in the last match of the day.
Looking to bounce-back form their last-minute loss to Brighton last time out, promotion hopefuls, Durham showed their pedigree at home to Watford. Zoe Ness game the Wildcats the lead late in the first-half with a plumb header as Keith Boanas’ side did well to hang in the match until after the hour when the hosts stepped it up a gear. Abi Cottam grabbed her first of the season with a low shot to beat Fran Kitching before Beth Hepple and Kathryn Hill both struck in the last ten minutes. Hepple’s 80 minute free kick from out wide enough to swing all the way in and Hill’s volley enough to cap off a successful match for Durham as they extend out their winning streak at home.
Though the traffic was not all one way and Watford had their chances early in the match the Golden Girls slip to last in the table, their lack of points compounded by their leaky defence.
Wendy Martin’s brace was enough for Spurs in their first trip to the Hive, the attacker on hand to turn Coral Haines’ cross home after the Bees had squandered the best chance of the game. Martin bright to grab a quick-fire second just minutes later after rounding Nicola Hobbs in the box, the lead cut down just before the break when Jo Wilson finished off a neat move from the home side.
Gritty to the last, Spurs did well to hang in and, at times, ride their luck to claim their second successive WSL win, the Bees only lifted from the floor of the table by Watford’s worse goal difference.
One of the unexpected packages of the season so far, Brighton were looking to make it three wins from three in the capital and battled to the last against a determined Millwall team enjoying a strong run of home success.
Alieen Whelan opened her account to the Seagulls half-way through the first-half with her second bite of the cherry, the lone goal enough to separate the two at the break before the hosts equalised at a scrappy corner, Leanne Cowan first to pounce on the ball in the cluttered box to poke home. Fresh off of the bench, Bonnie Horwood gave the Lionesses the lead minutes later when she turned Megan Wynne’s low cross home before Lucy Somes restored parity with a plumb header to beat Sarah Quantrill.
Millwall then struck twice in ten minutes to all but confirm the win, first through Ella Rutherford who pounced on a rather woeful back-pass and clearance from the visitors before Ashlee Hincks capped off a searing run with a neat near-post finish. There was yet more drama however as Brighton pulled themselves within one three minutes from time as Ini Umotong was felled in the area and Dani Buet again converted from 12-yards for her new team. Though will little left on the clock it was an uphill battle for Brighton who fell to their first defeat of the year, the win enough to take the Lionesses to the top of the table, just piping the U’s on goals scored.
Sheffield 2-1 Aston Villa
Chloe Dixon was the hero for Sheffield when the hosts went toe-to-toe with an unlucky Villa side. A fumble within the first minute from Sian Rogers saw the hosts take the lead as the young ‘keeper failed to hold onto Dixon’s cross, though well in the game Villa would have gone in at the half feeling dejected after Dixon’s fine drive from range bested Rogers just before the whistle.
Largely the better team, Villa’s possession and chances meant for very little, shooting boots arguably left in the Midlands and Danielle Gibbons mostly untroubled. Digging deep in the last knockings, the Villainesses struck the woodwork before Kerri Welsh finally found an opener for the visitors when she was left free in the box. Though the goal was mere a consolation two minutes from time, Villa still to get off of the mark for the season.
Coming into the match top of the tree after two, Oxford knew they’d have their work cut out for them against a Belles team determined on finishing top and keen to pick up after dropping points last week.
Christie Murray’s opener at the midway point through the first-half seemed to be exactly the tonic the visitors needed, her shot at the afters at a corner a cracking strike with the outside of her boot to get the best of Demi Lambourne. The U’s seemed unperturbed and did well to keep themselves alive in the match, doing all they could to match the Belles, stride for stride, their hard work paying off on the hour when Chloe Chivers found an equaliser. Set free by Hannah Short, Chivers did well to pick out the far side of the goal from an increasingly tight angle before she saw a goal chalked off for offside.
Murray doubled her tally for the day seven minutes from time, poking home into an unguarded net after being fed by Bex Raynor. On the front foot the Belles looked to have secured all three points until Kayleigh Hines equalised with a fine free-kick three minutes into stoppage time, the points shared.