United Women got back to winning ways in Essex with a 2-1 away victory at Billericay Town Women this afternoon.
Jay Blackie fired Billericay into the lead just after the half hour mark, before Iesha Swaby levelled on the brink of half time for the U's. Carly Johns then scored an excellent goal with fifteen minutes to play to earn United all three points on the road.
United very nearly found the lead within the first 60 seconds. Sarah King drove at the Billericay defence and won an immediate free kick on the edge of the box, which Naomi Cole struck against the inside of the post.
It took a while for United to form another clear cut chance as Billericay reacted well, hassling the Yellows all over the pitch. They got a sight of goal in the 18th minute when Shelly Provan slipped through Iesha Swaby excellently, but Anna Pedersen came off her line well to deny the Oxford striker.
Winger Ruby Sealey was Billericay’s biggest threat, but the right hand side of King, who was excellent all afternoon, and Lily Stevens worked hard to stop her causing any real problems.
The home side did find the lead however in the 31st minute. United failed to deal with an in swinging free kick and Jay Blackie fired her half volley into the top left corner to put Oxford behind on the road for the second game running.
The U’s reacted well again, almost levelling straight away. Carly Johns dribbled through the blues' defence, rounded Pedersen and pulled it back from the tightest of angles, but King just couldn’t get a convincing touch on the end of it.
From the resulting corner, Riva Casley worked the ball out wide to King who crossed low for Swaby to tap in, but the flag was raised and the goal disallowed, and five minutes later Swaby thought she had scored again. Cole’s ball over the top was flicked home, but the flag went up for a second time.
Finally, Swaby got her goal at a vital point in the game. In the final moments of the half, she nicked the ball off Pederson and rolled it into the empty net to level for United, and the half time whistle followed. 1-1 at the break.
Billericay had conceced ten times in their last two outings, but defended resoloutly against the Yellows and stopping them from creating chances. Ten minutes after the restart, Johns danced her way to the byline again, but this time her cutback fell nicely into the hands of Pedersen.
As the game progressed, the blues sat behind the ball and the U's dominated posssesion. King made way for Tash Stephens in the 66th minute as Liam Gilbert looked to change things up top.
Then, in the 73rd minute Jenna Legg replaced Swaby for her United debut. Th switch worked instantly; Legg coming on allowed Johns to move into the number 9 role and Daisy McLachlan slotted her in. She cut inside, rifling her thirteenth of the season in with a superb strike into the top corner from the edge of the box to give United the lead in the 76th minute.
United made their final change when Amy Goddard replaced Leah Burridge in the 87th minute, and the centre half helped the U's see out the hard earned win.
A great reaction to losing their first game of the season last weekend and an important win in the promotion run in. The U's now have a break from the League as they play Oxford City Women in County Cup action next Sunday.
LINEUP: Kite, Provan, Casley, Gotch, Stevens, Cole, Burridge (Goddard 87), Johns, McLachlan, Swaby (Legg 73), King (Stephens 66)
Report by Billy Lawrence, pictures Darrell Fisher