Women held to 2-2 draw
Oxford United Women threw away a two-goal lead at home to Millwall Lionesses as they were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw in FA Women's Super League 2. Helen King and Ella Franklin-Fraiture strikes put United firmly in control at half-time, but they were unable to build on their lead, eventually being pegged back by Grace Fisk's header before Rinsola Babajide fired home the equaliser.
There were four changes for United's return to league action, with Laura Nichol, Amy Chivers, Laura Low and Lauren Allison returning to the bench. Hannah Cox retained her place in goal, with Demi Lambourne remaining among the substitutes. Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Holly Pickett, Kayleigh Hines and Chloe Bruce were all restored to the starting lineup after being rested for Thursday's Continental Cup opener against Yeovil.
With some heavy rainfall prior to kick-off, the match was played on a slippery Northcourt Road pitch and it was the hosts who better adapted to the conditions in the early stages. It took just three minutes for Helen King to fire United into the lead, seizing on a loose ball in the area before striking low into the bottom right-hand corner.
Millwall enjoyed the lion's share of possession for much of the first half, but struggled to break down a confident United defence and failed to create any clear openings. Instead it was Oxford who doubled the lead courtesy of a phenomenal strike from Ella Franklin-Fraiture. Picking up the ball 20 yards out following a driving run from King, she turned and unleashed a pearler of a shot which looped over goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill before clipping the underside of the bar on its way into the net.
And United could have killed the match off completely before the break as they scythed the Millwall defence open repeatedly in the closing stages of the half. King could have had her second when she met Holly Pickett's pinpoint cross, but her headed effort was superbly tipped over the bar by the outstretched hand of Quantrill.
A collision between Kayleigh Hines and Quantrill led to the Millwall stopper having to be taken off with a head injury, replaced for the second half by defender Naomi Cole. But she was rarely troubled throughout her spell in goal and it was the visitors who struck next on 63 minutes. Ashlee Hincks curled in a free-kick from a wide left position which caught out the United defence and Grace Fisk was on hand to head home from close range.
The Lionesses then began to pile on considerable pressure. Substitute Megan Goss could have levelled when she was found lurking at the back post, but her header back across goal drifted narrowly off target. However, Millwall wouldn't be denied for long and the equaliser followed shortly after when Rinsola Babajide raced onto a long clearance from the goalkeeper before blasting the ball emphatically into the back of the net.
The final exchanges of the match were frantic and it was United who looked the more likely to snatch a late winner, with both Ella Franklin-Fraiture and Katie Stanley seeing efforts go wide, but they ran out of time and had to settle for a frustrating point.
United: Cox, Meade, Bruce, Osborne-Ricketts, Lane, Hines, Nutman, Franklin-Fraiture, Pickett (Nichol 87), Stanley, King (Allison 90). Subs not used:
Report by Matt Bruce.