In the club’s first Women’s Super League 2 game they fell behind shortly before half-time with Jordan Atkinson on target.
Sheffield carved out opportunities of their own, but Jodie Michalska and Ellie Gilliatt wasted chances to send the majority of the 474-strong crowd home happy.
Johnson said: “It was a historic night for the club and the occasion might have got the better of the girls in the first half. You could see there were nerves and they were not composed on the ball. They were giving it away and making silly decisions.
“In the second half we were the better team. We had two or three clear cut chances and on another day they all go in.
“So it was a disappointing result, especially on a big occasion. But now it’s about how the girls come back from it because we go again in three days.
“It is our first time at this level, so we are not going to dominate games. But I think after the game now we look at it and feel like we could have taken something. It’s fantastic to see such a good crowd, and hopefully they will come back with the result not being positive. It’s great to see everyone coming out to support us and it means a lot.”
Durham assistant boss Andy Thorpe said: “Sheffield are new to the league and sometimes it’s hard to get recognised by the fans, but to get a crowd of 400-plus is really good from them.”
“They battled hard and I’m sure they will do well in the rest of the season.”
* For tickets to an FA Women’s Super League match, visit www.ticketstores.co.uk/fawsl.