Single goal hands Glovers the win
Oxford United Women's FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup campaign started with a 1-0 defeat at home to WSL 2 high-fliers Yeovil Town on Thursday. A much-changed United side put in a very positive performance, but it was Sarah Hill's headed goal in the first half which ultimately proved the difference between the two sides.
United offered chances to Hannah Cox, Laura Nichol, Amy Chivers, Laura Low and Lauren Allison, making five changes to the side which lost to Doncaster Rovers Belles on Sunday. Demi Lambourne, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Holly Pickett, Kayleigh Hines and Chloe Bruce dropped to the bench, with Kat Nutman taking the captain's armband.
Despite making a bright start and going close to taking an early lead when Katie Stanley fired across the face of goal, United found themselves a goal down against the run of play on 15 minutes when Sarah Hill ghosted in unmarked at the back post to head the visitors in front.
That signalled the start of a spell of Yeovil pressure and they could have doubled their lead minutes later when Hill cut the ball back for Stacey Pearson in space in front of goal, but she saw her powerful strike cannon back off the crossbar and away from goal.
United's Helen King was also denied by the woodwork, clipping the top of the bar with her header from the edge of the area. Again Oxford came desperately close to an equaliser in the 25th minute when Lauren Allison broke up the right wing before playing in Ella Franklin-Fraiture to fire into the side netting.
King again went close just before the half, twisting and turning through several challenges before cutting in from the right and curling an effort just over the bar.
Some defensive errors from the visitors went unpunished in the early stages of the second half. Franklin-Fraiture seized on one misplaced clearance shortly after the restart, but couldn't direct her effort on target and Laura Low caught substitute goalkeeper Nicky Lipscombe in possession, but was unable to dispossess the Yeovil stopper in front of goal.
But the visitors remained dangerous themselves as the game grew increasingly stretched in the later stages, with Stephanie Beck firing narrowly wide 15 minutes from time, moments before Wiltshire drew a stunning save from goalkeeper Hanna Cox to keep out a second.
United piled on the pressure in the closing stages of the match and twice went close from dangerous balls into the box. First substitute Kayleigh Hines headed into the arms of a grateful Lipscombe after she connected with Amy Chivers' lofted ball, before Lauren Allison headed narrowly wide from a corner. Hines had one more opportunity to level in stoppage time when she was clean through, but she failed to connect properly as she tried to lob the onrushing goalkeeper and the chance went begging.
Corinne Yorston could have finished it off when she broke free deep into stoppage time, only to see her strike come back off the crossbar, and Wiltshire was also presented with a golden chance right on the stroke of full-time, but fired horribly wide when one-on-one.
United: Cox, Meade, Nichol (Osborne-Ricketts HT), Chivers, Lane, Low (Hines 73), Nutman, Franklin-Fraiture, Allison, Stanley (Pickett HT), King. Subs not used: Lambourne, Timms, Bruce.
Report by Matt Bruce.