Match report: Lasses start with a draw

Durham Women 1-1 SAFC Women

SAFC Women started their 2022-23 Barclays Women’s Championship season with a 1-1 draw at Durham Women on Sunday afternoon.

Lee Sanders’ side opened the scoring in County Durham, as Saoirse Noonan climbed highest in the box to head home from six yards.

The opener came against the run of play and the Lasses responded brilliantly, with Westrup’s diving header levelling the game moments after she was denied by the woodwork.

A tenacious encounter ensued and both sides had chances to take all three points, but the spoils were shared in the first Wear derby of the campaign.

Five debutants featured for the Lasses, as Westrup, Tyler Dodds and Nicki Gears featured for the first time and Abby Holmes and Danielle Brown made their red and white comebacks.

Mel Reay’s side made a bright start to proceedings in DH5 and they crafted the first openings, with Durham forced to scramble clear a corner before Dodds struck wide.

However, it was the home side opened the scoring at Maiden Castle, as Noonan rose to head home on her debut.

The Lasses dusted themselves down immediately and went in search of a response, which almost arrived within minutes when Westrup’s header clattered the crossbar.

A summer arrival from Rangers, the centre back didn’t have to wait long for her first goal to arrive as her diving header provided the equaliser with 17 minutes played.

Brave goalkeeping from Tatiana Saunders denied Dodds and Emily Scarr in the stages that followed, while Emma Kelly drilled an effort wide after the half-hour mark.

Durham also had calls for a penalty waved away before the break, as it remained deadlocked at the interval.

Former Black Cat Mollie Lambert forced a save from Claudia Moan following the restart, but the sides remained level heading into the final 30 minutes.

Reay made a double change with 66 minutes on the clock, as Holly Watson and Abbey Joice entered the fray.

Durham also called upon reinforcements, with former Black Cat Maria Farrugia tasked with making the difference against her former team-mates following a summer switch.

Watson tore into opposition territory with 79 minutes on the clock, but the angle was too tight to find the target after she rounded ‘keeper Saunders. 

The Lasses almost nicked three points in added time as a header drifted wide, as it ended all square in County Durham.

SAFC Women: Moan, Holmes (Beer 82), McCatty, Westrup, Griffths, Kelly, Brown, Scarr, Ede (Joice 66), Dodds (Watson 66), Gears.
Subs not used: Cowling, Mullen, Brown, McInnes, Manders.

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