Oxford United Women were beaten 1-0 on the road to Rugby Borough Women under the lights tonight.
George Anthony made two changes to the side that lost to Hashtag United on Sunday, with Izzy Cook and Katie Sherwood coming into the side, allowing Cecily Wellesley-Smith to come into midfield and Leah Burridge to start in the nine.
The U’s started much faster than they did three days ago, Cook and Zoe Barratt causing problems on the wings with their directness and pace.
In the 17th minute though, it was pace at the back that saved the U’s. Lily Greenslade touched the ball round Paris Sercombe and the ball looked destined for the back of the net, but centre back Sherwood miraculously cleared off the line with a sliding effort.
Rugby did score first though, and this was not defending to be proud of; the ball bobbled around with the U’s failing to clear and Angelina Nixon scuffed a volley goal bound. A frustrating goal to concede given the strong start.
Cook was excellent going forward and defensively, her doggedness nearly earning her a goal approaching half time, winning the ball back and curling an effort just wide of the far post from the edge of the box.
Barratt also had a strike saved well low at the near post by Erin Foley, but United couldn’t find a leveller and went into the break behind for the second game in a row.
When the fixtures came out, this one always looked tough away in midweek to a side relegated from the Championship last season.
The game became end-to-end as the U’s pushed forward leaving gaps at the back. Sercombe made a few important claims and saves, whilst Wellesley-Smith looked dangerous driving through midfield.
Ellie Butler came on for her Oxford United debut with Iesha Swaby in the 64th minute to try to change the angle of attack.
Wellesley-Smith turned cleverly in the box and saw a deflected effort cleared off the line, Barratt bent one wide of the post and Sarah King saw a late effort miraculously saved by Erin Foley, but ultimately the U’s couldn’t find a way to level the game.
Frustrating to lose to a sloppy goal, but a better performance and a game in which a draw would’ve been a fair result. On to Sunday at Court Place Farm.
LINEUP: Sercombe, Provan, Gotch, Sherwood, Hoare, Wellesley-Smith (King 81'), Stevens, Wiseman (Swaby 64’), Barratt, Burridge, Cook (Butler 64’)