United beat London Bees to record back-to-back victoriesFirst-half goals from Kayleigh Hines and Katie Stanley secured a crucial 2-1 home victory for Oxford United Women over struggling London Bees in WSL 2, despite a late scare when Gemma Fraser pulled one back for the visitors.
United's starting XI was unchanged from the side which beat Durham 1-0 last weekend, while on the bench Gemma Simmonds returned to the squad after recovering from a troublesome ankle injury and there was also a return for Helen King.
There was an early scare for the U's when goalkeeper Demi Lambourne came out to collect a loose ball only to have it pinched by Amber Gaylor. Fortunately, the U's stopper was able to recover and smother at her feet to prevent an early goal for the visitors.
And despite a bright opening from the visitors it was United who took an early lead. Kayleigh Hines twisted and turned through several challenges before being hacked down as she advanced towards goal. But the U's midfielder picked herself up before dipping the free-kick over the wall to sneak into the left-hand corner of the Bees net.
United extended their lead when Katie Stanley beat Paula Howells on the right wing before firing a hopeful ball across goal. Bees goalkeeper Sophie Harris should have dealt with it easily, but the ball squirmed out of her grip and over the line.
Katie Stanley could have made it three when she latched onto Hines' perfectly weighted ball over the top, but she fired horribly high and wide as she bore down on goal. Moments later she turned provider with a delightful through ball to put Kat Nutman through one-on-one with the keeper, but Harris atoned for her earlier mistake to block at her feet, with Lauren Allison unable to direct the rebound goalwards.
The visitors also had chances of their own, not least when Lambourne fumbled an aerial ball into the box, which fell to the feet of striker Lucy Loomes. She despatched the loose ball into the empty net and wheeled away in celebration, only to spot the linesman's raised offside flag.
With the visitors pressing forward after the interval, United were provided with some great chances on the break. The first came as the pacy Allison raced away on the right wing before picking out Holly Pickett just yards from goal, but she fired over the bar. And Pickett again found herself free in front of goal, but took one touch too many before she could get her shot away.
And having missed the opportunity to pull clear, United found themselves pegged back when a lofted ball into the box was met by Gemma Fraser on the stretch to tip it just beyond the reach of Lambourne, with Osborne-Ricketts unable to claw it out of goal.
The visitors were spurred on by the goal and searched frantically for an equaliser, with chances falling to Paige Wakefield and Ashleigh Goddard. With ten minutes to go, they came closer still when Goddard rattled the crossbar after a scramble in the United box. The home side breathed a sigh of relief and then saw to smothering the threat for the remainder of the match to make it back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
United: Lambourne, Meade, Bruce (Nichol 88), Osborne-Ricketts, Lane, Hines, Nutman, Jaadla, Pickett (Franklin-Fraiture 72), Stanley, Allison (Simmonds 72). Subs not used: Cox, King
The U's are at home again this coming Sunday when they welcome Everton Ladies to Northcourt Road (2pm)