United Women stung by London Bees
Oxford United Women kicked off their inaugural WSL 2 campaign with a 3-0 defeat against London Bees at Northcourt Road this evening.
United started the game brightly, attacking their visitors from the off and in the sixth minute came close to breaking the deadlock when Katie Stanley ran on to a ball over the top from Lauren Allison before bringing a save from Bees keeper Sophie Harris. With quarter of an hour gone the Bees created their first real chance when Billie Brooks blasted in a volley that Kayleigh Hines did well to block for a corner. However, United weren't put off their stride and three minutes later Allison raced clear to ping in a shot that Harris did well to block, with Helen King first to the rebound only for her shot to hit the outside of the post.
With 26 minutes on the clock Bees took the lead, somewhat against the run of play. A poor clearance was worked to Lucy Loomes who strode forward before shooting, with the ball bouncing over Demi Lambourne in the Oxford goal. United tried to respond on the half-hour mark when Stanley raced away down the right and zipped in a cross that was met at the far post by Holly Pickett but unfortunately she was unable to keep her shot down and the chance was gone. Two minutes later the U's were denied a penalty when Allison appeared to be tugged by Harris after the keeper had dropped the ball, but the referee waved away the vociferous appeals.
The pace of Stanley and Allison was causing the Bees defence all sorts of problems and Harris had to be alert to clear her lines on more than one occasion. Although United were the bigger attacking threat they still had to stay awake at the back and were grateful to Rosie Lane for a brave tackle on Loomes to prevent the Bees extending their lead just before the break.
Attacking down the slope in the second half, United continued to push the Bees back with Stanley outstanding on the right flank, Allison a constant threat and King driving the team forward from midfield. Crosses flew across the box without being converted and the U's could easily have been back on level terms. Unfortunately they hadn't found the net and on 72 minutes were made to pay as the excellent Amber Gaylor controlled in space on the edge of the box and crashed the ball past Demi Lambourne to make it 2-0.
United kept going and sub Laura Low drove just wide on 82 but in the end could find no way past a well-organised Bees defence and on 88 were 3-0 down and beaten as Billy Brooks drilled a long-distance free kick over Lambourne to seal the Bees' victory.
No disgrace in losing the first game. United showed that they will be fine at this higher level and a crowd of 361 had great value from an excellent game of football.
Lambourne, Mobbs, Hines, Chivers, Stanley, Allison (Franklin- Fratture 86), Pickett (Low 68), Pinker, King, Connor-Iommi, Lane