Following the international break it was business as usual in the second tier with Manchester United and Durham claiming hearty wins over Crystal Palace and Millwall as Spurs kept pace with a narrow win over Charlton. Elsewhere, Lewes and Villa shared the spoils as the Bees bested the Blades.
Scoring in flurries this season, Sunday was no exception for Durham as they notched three in the first nine minutes against Millwall. A goal to the good two minutes in as Beth Hepple lifted the ball over the box and into the back of the net at a free kick, the visitors extended their advantage two minutes later through Nicki Gears who turned home after superb solo work from Emily Roberts.
The Lionesses hit back instantly from the kick off, four passes enough to see Evie Clarke away and slotting the ball into Hannah Reid’s far corner for just the third goal conceded by the Wildcats this season. However, the chance of a comeback from Millwall was short-lived as Hepple reopened the gap four minutes later as she slotted home Roberts’ square ball.
The match put to bed ten minutes before the break as Sarah Wilson, got the better of Chloe Sansom at a corner before Zoe Ness fired in a fifth after the break.
Given top-billing on the day, Spurs did well to claim their seventh win of the season as they faced a growing Charlton side. The only goal of the game scored half-way through the first half when Jess Naz out-muscled Harley Bennett, to bring the ball into the box, dragging Katie Startup out before poking the ball into the exposed net.
Keen to keep daylight between themselves and the rest of the chasing pack, the hosts continued to ask questions of Startup as they looked to find a cushion in the match, the young goalkeeper doing well to earn her corn throughout. The lone goal good enough for all three points.
In a match that was always likely to be one-sided, the Red Devils had little problem dispatching with a struggling Palace side. The hosts left undone 17 minutes in as Shanell Salgado came out to intercept the ball, leaving her goalmouth exposed for the inevitable cutback to Lizzie Arnot, the Scot converting with ease.
Despite their chances, it wasn’t until the second half that United showed their prowess in front of goal, Arnot adding a second ten minutes after the break with a close range finish before Mollie Green made it three just four minutes later with a fine effort from the top of the box. Alex Greenwood added a fourth from the spot before Green grabbed her second of the day, putting the gloss on another strong win.
Lewes 1-1 Aston Villa
Having parted ways with manager John Donoghue over the break, the Rookettes were facing a new set of challenges at home when they welcomed a resurgent Villa side. Jade Richards’ towering header early in the match leaving the hosts it all to do in Sussex.
More polished than their opponents, the Villianesses could and probably should have found a second from their chances but failed to get the better of Faye Baker for a second time on the day. The hosts pulled level 20 minutes from time when Sarah Kempson let fly from outside the box after the visitors had failed to clear their lines, her arced effort too much for Sian Rogers.
Two teams not quite living up to the billing this season, though both struggling with a number of injuries, the Bees and the Blades went toe to toe at the Hive with the hosts scooping all three points.
Deadlocked at the break, a neat flick from Katie Wilkinson set Ruesha Littlejohn up to crank open the scores ten minutes into the second half. The match wrapped up ten minutes from time when Nicola Gibson fired Emma Beckett’s nod-on in at the far post.