Durham Women cruised into the last sixteen of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup after a stunning win over Crystal Palace.
The hosts were in fine form throughout and raced into an early lead courtesy of goals from Mollie Lambert and Jess Clarke, before Lily Crosthwaite added some gloss to the scoreline in second half injury time.
Indeed, it was Durham who had all of the early running and they registered a plethora of chances in the early stages.
Clarke sent an arrowed effort narrowly over before a frantic spell saw Lambert denied by Fran Kitching, Beth Hepple crash a strike off the bar and Saoirse Noonan thwarted in quick succession.
But a deserved opener would come on ten minutes as Rio Hardy burst into the box before unselfishly squaring for Lambert to sweep home.
And a second would come five minutes later – Noonan, who was in an offside position, cleverly let the ball run for Jess Clarke who latched onto it before unleashing an unstoppable half-volley into the top corner.
It was natural that after such a frenetic opening, things would calm down – but Durham continued to create chances.
Lambert and Clarke almost combined on a quick counter before Palace snuffed out the danger, before Sarah Robson’s header from a corner had to be cleverly diverted over her own bar by Fliss Gibbons.
Both Noonan and Sarah Wilson came close to adding a third before the break but to no avail, and the second half saw Palace come out the blocks with a renewed vigour.
Some attack-minded changes saw the visitors put some early pressure on Durham after the restart, but they failed to seriously test Naoisha McAloon despite seeing plenty of the ball.
In fact, it was the Wildcats who continued to carve out the best chances – Hardy seeing a powerful effort saved by Kitching while Beth Hepple also came close but saw her strike from the angle flash agonisingly wide.
A huge opportunity to add a third came in the final ten minutes when substitute Bridget Galloway found herself through on goal only to be brought down.
Referee Pheobe Cross waved play on with Lambert looking set to tap home before a stunning goal-line block from Annabel Johnson thwarted her.
But a third would eventually come in added time – Crosthwaite keeping her cool to slot beyond Kitching after being found in space by Lauren Briggs’ raking pass.
That sealed Durham’s progression to the last sixteen for the second successive year.
Durham W vs Crystal Palace W
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|January 29, 2023||12:00 pm||FA Cup||2022_2023||90'|