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Sheffield FC 0 Durham Women 1 (Atkinson 44)
Jordan Atkinson's goal was enough to earn Durham a win on the opening night of the WSL 2 season and put a dent in Sheffield FC's debut in the competition.
It was a carnival atmosphere at The Home of Football Stadium, with the hosts celebrating their first game in the FA Women's Super League. But it was the visitors began brightly, with corners providing a useful avenue for chances.
Firstly, Sarah McFadden saw a hooked volley well saved by Wallhead, before the Sheffield stopper did well to deny an acrobatic Nat Gutteridge effort.
Sheffield were still a threat, however, with Alderson doing well to deny Jodie Michalska after she had muscled her way into the area. Durham, though, were still on top and Nicki Gears and Beth Hepple both saw efforts go narrowly wide of the post after surging runs.
The breakthrough eventually came a minute before half time thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from Atkinson. After a long ball from Sarah Wilson found the winger in space on the right, she cut inside before curling a delightful effort past Wallhead from 12 yards.
This saw the Wildcats go in at half time ahead, and they were then met with a rejuvenated Sheffield after the break. After Becky Salicki and Wilson slid in well to stop Michalska getting into the box, the striker later found herself in space only to fire straight at Alderson from close range.
Chances continued to flow for the hosts, who spurred a golden opportunity when Ellie Gilliatt fired over from six yards with the goal at her mercy after being teed up by Michalska.
Helen Alderson was called into action moments later when she made a fantastic double save to deny Sheffield from a goalmouth scramble after a teasing corner.
The Wildcats still looked lively however, with Atkinson and Gears proving a handful. The latter found some space to shoot from the edge of the area, but a deflection allowed it to trickle through to Wallhead.
Despite some late pressure from Sheffield, Durham held on to claim a vital three points.
Sheffield FC: Claire Wallhead, Emma Lipman, Danielle Cox, Billie Murphy, Lynn Goodman, Kerry Parkin, Carla Ward, Sherry McCue, Rhema Lord-Mears, Jodie Michalska, Ellie Gilliatt. Subs not used: Emily Owen, Hannah Dale, Jules Draycott, Chloe Dixon, Emily Roberts.
Durham Women: Helen Alderson, Amelia Pereira (sub Chloe Macek 87mins), Sarah Wilson, Sarah McFadden, Beth Hepple, Nicki Gears, Nat Gutteridge, Jordan Atkinson (sub Nicola Gibson 90mins), Becky Salicki, Ellie Christon, Rachel Lee. Subs not used: Megan Borthwick, Sarah Eadon.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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