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Bristol City 1 (Fergusson 18) Durham Women 0
Bristol City have gone three points clear at the top of WSL 2 after a first half goal from Olivia Fergusson gave them a crucial victory against promotion rivals Durham Women.
The home side were narrowly deserving of their win but it was once again a well fought and absorbing encounter between two teams with their sights set on a WSL 1 place for next season.
City were quicker out of the blocks at the start and carried the game towards the visitors but could only produce one worthwhile effort on goal, a Claire Emslie shot from the edge of the area which flashed wide.
That changed in the eighteenth minute when Fergusson worked an opening and although her shot was not the most powerful, it was accurate and beat the diving Helen Alderson before finding its way inside the far post to put her side ahead.
Jodie Brett tried her luck from distance with a shot that dipped just over and Fergusson had another effort charged down as the Vixens sought a second goal but Durham rallied and stood strong under the increasing pressure.
As half time approached, Brett's cross picked out Hayley Ladd whose well struck volley brought out a good save from Alderson. Chloe Arthur volleyed over at full stretch from a corner as City took their one-goal lead into the interval.
Durham came into the game more in the second half but were finding it difficult to get behind the City defence and indeed it was the home side who went close to increasing their lead when, after the Wildcats were unable to fully clear a corner, Charlie Estcourt scuffed a shot towards goal which was cleared from the line by Beth Hepple.
Ladd headed wide from another corner and Lauren Hemp forced another fine save from Alderson from point blank range as she tried to sweep home a Claire Emslie cross, but these were rare opportunities as both defences remained tight.
Durham pushed their players further forward in search of an equaliser but City defended superbly with Grace McCatty in particularly good form in the centre. The home side were becoming increasingly reliant on the counter attack and the pace of Hemp and Emslie but any efforts on goal they produced were mainly from long range, going closest when Emily Syme, on as a substitute, had a shot blocked by Sarah McFadden with her first touch.
In injury time, Durham won a corner from which even Alderson went forward but Hepple's kick was caught under pressure by Hannah Reid, bringing a cheer from the home crowd as loud as that when they scored. City held on for a hard earned win which, for the time being, puts them in the driving seat in the promotion race.
Bristol City: Hannah Reid, Ellie Wilson, Megan Alexander, Jodie Brett (sub Emily Syme 82 mins), Grace McCatty, Georgia Evans, Chloe Arthur, Hayley Ladd, Charlie Estcourt, Olivia Fergusson (sub Lauren Hemp 64mins), Claire Emslie (sub Paige Sawyer 89mins). Subs not used: Estelle Randall, Katie Jones, Poppy Wilson, Lily Woodham.
Durham Women: Helen Alderson, Ellie Christon, Jen Jennings (sub Sarah Eadon 87mins), Becky Salicki, Sarah Wilson, Rachel Lee (sub Tyler Dodds 80mins), Beth Hepple, Sarah McFadden, Emily Roberts, Natalie Gutteridge, Jordan Atkinson. Subs not used: Megan Borthwick, Nicola Gibson, Chloe Macek.
(top) Olivia Fergusson scores the decisive goal
(middle) Ellie Wilson has her eyes fixed on the ball whilst Jordan Atkinson threatens
(bottom) Hannah Reid claims an injury time corner under pressure
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