Hartlepool United Ladies were beaten for the first time in the league this season on Sunday as Durham Cestria ran out 3-0 winners at Greyfields.
Andy Stuart had a number of injury problems to contend with going in to the fixture against a powerful Cestria outfit who won promotion alongside Pools last season.
The visitors got off to the perfect start when they opened the scoring on eight minutes, taking advantage of some poor marking to convert from a corner.
A tight and keenly-contested first half ensued with neither side really creating too many chances of note and both goalkeepers remaining largely untested.
However, Durham stole further in front just before the break when Justine Robinson’s tackle in the box resulted in a penalty which was tucked away for 2-0.
Pools responded well in the opening period of the second half and enjoyed more possession without really getting in to the goalscoring positions needed to get back in to the game.
Durham made sure of the points with fifteen minutes left on the clock when Pools were again exposed from a corner and the ball was slotted past make-shift keeper Ash Leighton to make it 3-0.
There was a late flourish from Pools with a few corners and a free-kick late on which forced the Durham keeper in to a good save but the visitors saw it out and took away the victory.
“It was a tough game for us due to the players who were unavailable and Durham were able to bring players down from their WSL team for the game,” admitted Stuart afterwards.
“To be honest, we didn’t do enough to win the game and were lacking in most areas but the positive is that we know we can play better so we need to get that greater consistency.
“Although we lost 3-0 to a strong team, we didn’t allow them to create too many opportunities in what was quite a scrappy game.”
Full Time: Hartlepool United Ladies 0 Durham Cestria Ladies 3
Pools: A Leighton, Cowan (Hurrell 65), Rackstraw (Bartlett 17), Robinson, Stuart, Basnett, Portas (McAlpine 60), Bates, Duckling, Dawson (Hammond-Garrington 55), Rowbotham (Pye 46).