Thursday 15 May 2014
FA WSL Continental Cup match
Notts County Ladies FC Goal Scorers: Friend 24', Clarke 49',70', Whelan 72'
United beaten by WSL 1 leaders
Oxford went down 4-0 at home to a strong Notts County side in the Continental Cup. The U's were much better than the scoreline suggested, matching their high-flying opponents for large spells of the match. However, as the match wore on the difference between full-time and part-time became apparent and the visitors were able to press home their advantage.
With Katie Stanley out with a back injury manager Les Taylor opted to switch Holly Pickett to fill the right wing position, with Laura Low coming in on the left. Lauren Allison led the line for United in front of a midfield five which included Kayleigh Hines, Helen King and Kat Nutman as the U's looked to shore up a backline which had conceded nine at Bristol.
United were barely able to escape their own half in the opening ten minutes as County poured forward, but the U's defended solidly and in numbers to prevent any openings. And it was Oxford who created the best chances in the early stages, with Laura Low robbing full-back Dunia Susi before squaring to Lauren Allison, who shot narrowly wide.
Notts County did eventually take the lead in the 24th minute, Caitlin Friend getting in front of goalkeeper Hannah Cox to steer the ball home after the Oxford defence had been caught out by a dangerous free-kick.
United almost responded straight away when Jemma Connor-Iommi's thunderous free-kick cannoned back off the upright, with Helen King unable to turn in the rebound. And despite the lively Allison looking threatening on the counter, Oxford were unable to find a way through before the break.
The U's made a lively start to the second half, bringing Laura Nichol on for her debut, but were unfortunate to find themselves two behind just five minutes in. A Notts County corner led to chaos in the box, with Sahara Osborne-Ricketts' attempted clearance coming back off a teammate and rebounding over the line.
Rachel Colsie appeared to have headed in a third for the visitors when she was first to the rebound after Cox had palmed away another effort, but was denied by the offside flag. However, they didn't have to wait long, as just moments later Jess Clarke headed home from a deep free-kick.
Oxford were clearly tiring by this point after working hard to keep up with their higher-league opponents for 70 minutes and they were soon four down. Substitute Aileen Whelan arrived late at the back post to turn in a cross after outpacing a leggy Oxford defence.
Deep into injury time Amy Chivers appeared to have given United something to cheer about. Her speculative effort from just inside the County half caught out goalkeeper Carly Telford who scrambled back to claw the ball out. It appeared to have clearly crossed the line but referee Sian Piret waved play on to deny the U's even a consolation effort.
United: Cox, Hines, Osborne-Ricketts, Chivers, Allison, Pickett (Nichol 45), King, Nutman, Connor-Iommi, Lane, Low (Lowder 82). Subs not used: Lambourne, Mobbs, Pinker.
Pictures by Nigel Chivers.