Late drama as Women secure late win
An incredible late double sealed a remarkable victory for Oxford United United at Watford in FA Women's Super League 2 on Sunday. Sahara Osborne-Ricketts headed the U's into a half-time lead, but goals from Kim Farrow and Ellie Mason appeared to have given the home side the points. But with full-time approaching United struck twice inside a minute to complete an incredible comeback, with Katie Stanley netting the equaliser moments before Destiney Toussaint opened her account in style with the winner.
After resting several for Wednesday night's Continental Cup clash with Notts County, there were returns for Rosie Lane, Kat Nutman, Kayleigh Hines, Katie Stanley and Holly Pickett – though Chloe Bruce and Madison Lee were both out with knocks.
United started brightly, with striker Destiney Toussaint showing her intent early on, drawing a second-minute save from goalkeeper Deger Zekai after cutting inside and shooting on her left foot. Six minutes later, Zekai again denied Toussaint from a similar position as United looked to make their territorial dominance count.
Kayleigh Hines was just inches away from putting Oxford in front in the 26th minute, arriving late in the area to head Katie Stanley's outswinging corner goalwards, but her effort was deflected onto the post. Captain Sahara Osborne-Ricketts was lurking on the edge of the area when the ball came back in, shooting narrowly wide.
The lively Anneka Nuttall was causing United some problems at the other end. Having earlier failed to capitalise on an underhit backpass from Rosie Lane, she had her clearest sight of goal in the 35th minute when she escaped the offside to race onto a ball over the top, but her first touch let her down, allowing goalkeeper Demi Lambourne to collect.
Zekai was again called upon to keep the scores level moments later, tipping Holly Pickett's well directed effort just wide of the post at full stretch. But there was nothing she could do from the resulting corner, which was headed on by Lane to be glanced in at the back post by Osborne-Ricketts.
The second half was barely a minute old when the hosts levelled with something of a freak goal. Kim Farrow's cross-cum-shot looped over Lambourne to sneak into the far corner from the narrowest of angles.
After that setback United re-established control, creating a succession of half-chances which they were unable to capitalise on and right on the hour mark had a big penalty appeal turned down. Laura Nichol seized the ball from a corner, but as she attempted to bring it under control she appeared to be hacked down. However, despite Oxford's protestations, referee Wayne Cartmel waved play on.
And the hosts took full advantage of their let-off to take the lead 15 minutes from time. Just moments after drawing a save from a backpedalling Lambourne with a cheeky attempted lob, Ellie Mason got the goal she had threatened. Cutting inside from the left-hand side, she sidestepped one challenge before firing an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
But just when it seemed as if defeat was on the cards, United hit back with a remarkable quickfire double in the closing stages.
With 83 minutes on the clock, Katie Stanley spotted the keeper off her line, before attempting an audacious lob of her own. Zekai backpedalled furiously but, under pressure from substitute Lauren Allison, she was unable to stop the ball's inexorable path toward goal.
Less than a minute later the turnaround was completed, United piling bodies in the area before Destiney Toussaint somehow bundled it over the line. With eight minutes of added time still to play, United's victory was not yet assured, but that late double blow seemed to take the fight out of the home side and the U's were able to see the remainder of the match out with no further incident.
United: Lambourne, Nichol, Osborne-Ricketts, Lane, Meade, Nutman (King 77), Hines, Franklin-Fraiture, Stanley, Toussaint, Pickett (Allison 71). Subs not used: Cox, Pinker.
Report by Matt Bruce.