- Albion’s four-game winning streak comes to an end
- The Seagulls cannot catch Doncaster Belles in the table
- Two first-half goals give Durham a comfortable lead
- The Wildcats add two further strikes in the second half
Brighton & Hove Albion’s FA WSL 2 title charge came to an end after they were comfortably beaten 4-0 at Durham Women FC.
With one game remaining, Hope Powell’s side cannot catch leaders Doncaster Rovers Belles after their four-game winning streak came to an end in the north east.
Durham made their intentions clear from the very first whistle and were rewarded in the sixth minute when a corner was headed down by Nicki Gears and turned home by an unmarked Zoe Ness.
With their tails up, the Wildcats almost scored a second just four minutes later when Ness floated a ball into the box, but Becky Salicki steered her header narrowly over the bar.
Following a frenetic start by the hosts, Albion’s first attack came in the 13th minute when Kate Natkiel tried her luck from distance but Durham keeper Helen Alderson gathered comfortably.
Durham again came close on 16 minutes when a sweeping move involving Ness and Emily Roberts resulted in the on-rushing Beth Hepple crashing her effort against the bar.
While the Seagulls looked dangerous on the counter-attack, the Wildcats grabbed a deserved second in the 28th minute when Amelia Ritchie misjudged a long ball, allowing Gears to nip in and slot the ball beyond Albion keeper Lucy Gillett.
Durham then had a chance to take an unassailable lead when Ness was through on goal but much to the Seagulls’ relief, she pulled her effort wide of the target.
A pulsating half of football then saw Alderson save Jenna Legg’s looping header from a Danielle Buet cross, while Kirsty Barton also saw a dangerous centre cleared.
Albion continued to dominate the closing stages of the first half, with Legg letting fly from distance, but her effort fell the wrong side of Alderson’s upright.
Powell made a half-time substitute with Sophia Pharaoh replacing Lucy Somes, but the shake-up failed to have the desired effect, as Durham grabbed a third in the 48th minute when Roberts found the bottom corner from inside the area.
Legg then played a one-two with Pharoah, but Alderson was out before the midfielder could get her shot away, while at the other end, Lauren Briggs chipped an effort inches over the bar after Gillett failed to gather a corner.
Natkiel and Hepple both had speculative efforts that failed to trouble either keeper, but Durham put the icing on their cake in the 74th minute when Roberts rounded Gillett to score her second of the half.
Aileen Whelan tried her luck in the closing stages, but Durham were worthy winners on a disappointing afternoon for the Seagulls, who end their campaign next Sunday with the visit of Millwall Lionesses to Culver Road.
ALBION: Gillett; Ritchie, Legg, Rafferty, Gibbons (Ashton-Jones 80); Buet, Peplow, Barton; Somes (Pharoah 45), Whelan, Natkiel.
SUB NOT USED: Hartley (GK).