DURHAM STAND-IN MEGAN IS DARING TO DREAM OF STEP-UP
LOSING your No.1 keeper in the midst of a promotion battle is far from ideal, but Durham did so at Millwall Lionesses last weekend in an unusual set of circumstances.
Shot stopper – and charity fundraiser – Helen Alderson had kept six clean sheets in FA WSL 2 this term to help the Wildcats into fourth place in the table, with the top two to go up.
However, the former Sunder- land and Doncaster Rovers Belles keeper was absent at The Den as she was required to complete the day job at Sunday’s Great North Run i n Newcastle.
Her so-far-unused understudy for several games this term had been striker Sarah Eadon, but, rather than have to put on the gloves as an emergency stopper in London, boss Lee Sanders turned to 20-year-old Megan Borthwick for her debut.
The Northumbria University student proved a safe pair of hands, helping shut out the Lionesses as Durham battled to a 1-0 victory that leaves them three points behind second-placed Bristol City with a game in hand.
And Borthwick admits she has barely stopped smiling.
“It was a really good game and unbelievable to get a clean sheet,” said the 20-year-old, who will soon commence the final year of a sports science degree.
“I didn’t sleep too well on Saturday night! But I like playing at places like The Den. It helps the momentum and felt like a cup final.
“I was a little bit nervous, but the girls spoke to me and that really
settled me down and helped a lot. Once I’d made my first save, my nerves had gone and I was happy to get on with it.
“I knew I was playing about a week before. Myself and Helen worked closely in the build-up, making sure I was familiar with the back four and went from there.
“I get on really well with Helen, so I’m happy that she is playing well and the team is playing well.
Hopefully, I can play again this season, but I’m happy either way.
“As long as the team’s winning, I’m happy to play my part either way.”
Leaders Yeovil Town suffered a surprise defeat to London Bees later in the day, boosting Durham’s chances of reaching WSL 1.
The club has already held talks with Durham University on how they might cope with life in the topflight and will be aided by the healthy relationship they enjoy with Sunderland.
Should the best happen and the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea are to visit New Ferens Park next term, the club could begin to offer their players fulltime contracts.
While Borthwick, a student, is loathe to get carried away, she knows she has come a long way from Premier League Northern Division football with Newcastle United.
“If we were to go up and go fulltime that would be unbelievable, but we’ll see how it goes,” she added.
“I didn’t imagine this could have happened, I was over the moon with the opportunity to come to Durham and I’ve never looked back.”