U's beat Durham 1-0 in WSL2
Oxford United Women United battled to an impressive 1-0 victory at home to Durham at Northcourt Road on Sunday. Kat Nutman's scrambled effort put the U's in front before the break and despite some pressure from the visitors in the second half they hung on to take the points.
Manager Les Taylor made just one just one change from the side which drew 2-2 with Reading in their previous outing, with Chloe Bruce coming into the side at left back in place of Laura Nichol, who returned to the bench.
United enjoyed the majority of possession during the opening exchanges but were unable to carve out any clear-cut opportunities. With the U's mostly restricted to long-range efforts, including from Katie Stanley and Kayleigh Hines, it was the visitors who created the best chances on their rare forays forward.
Beth Hepple went closest for Durham, meeting a simple diagonal ball and shooting first time past goalkeeper Demi Lambourne only to see her effort come back off the post. Moments later Jemma Purfield went close when she was played in by the lively Amelia Pereira, but her shot flashed across the face of goal.
Hines impressively tried her luck from 35 yards after beating her marker with a deft turn, though the shot went harmlessly over. That, however, proved to be just a sighter as just a minute later she tried again, this time drawing an excellent save at full stretch from goalkeeper Helen Alderson.
The danger wasn't over yet though and from the resulting corner Hines headed it down in the area for Nutman to poke over the line.
The second half was barely a minute old when a reinvigorated Durham brought the first save out of Lambourne, who got down well to keep out Jemma Purfield's low drive. Beth Hepple sent a free-kick well over just moments later, but Durham's challenge soon faltered as United effectively killed their momentum.
There were still some nervy moments for United in the later stages of the game, with Lambourne fumbling a Hepple header before gathering under pressure from Vic Linsley as the Durham substitute attempted to scramble the ball out of her grasp.
But in the latter stages it was United who had the best chances to kill the game off as Durham committed ever greater numbers forward. Lauren Allison beat the offside trap as United broke quickly, before cutting the ball back for Nutman in front of goal, but she dragged her shot wide from close range. Allison also had a golden chance to double United's tally before the final whistle, volleying over the bar after Stanley latched onto a beautiful through ball from Hines before cutting it back to the United striker in space.
Fortunately, the visitors were unable to punish the U's for their failure to kill the game off and United hung on for their second win of the season.
They get the chance to make that three this coming Sunday, May 17th, when they are at home to London Bees.
United: Lambourne, Meade, Bruce, Osborne-Ricketts, Lane, Hines, Nutman, Jaadla, Pickett (Low 87), Stanley, Allison (Franklin-Fraiture 90+3). Subs not used: Cox, Nichol, Pinker.
Report by Matt Bruce