U's Women end with 5-3 defeat
Oxford United Women's FA Women's Super League 2 campaign finished with a 5-3 defeat away to a strong Everton side on Sunday as the U's ended the season in 6th place in the table.
Kat Nutman put the U's in front early on and Kayleigh Hines also netted a brace but it wasn't enough. Simone Magill, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Kelly Jones, Lindsay Johnson and Jess King netted for the hosts as they ultimately took advantage of their numerical advantage to add extra gloss to the scoreline, following an injury to Oxford's Rosie Lane.
The influential Hines returned to the starting lineup after missing out on a trip to Doncaster last time out through suspension. Also coming into the side were Danielle Scanlon and Holly Pickett, with Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Laura Nichol and Katie Stanley dropping out.
Although it was the hosts who started on the front foot, it was United who took an early lead thanks to a speculative long-range effort from Kat Nutman. Her shot should have been straightforward for Everton keeper Kirstie Levell, but the bouncing ball caught her off-guard, slipping through her fingers and into the bottom left-hand corner.
The home side responded immediately and within four minutes they were level, breaking quickly up the left-hand side with Danielle Turner, who squared it for Simone Magill to tap in.
Everton began to push forward after that, but found United keeper Demi Lambourne in fine form, superbly saving headed efforts from Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah and Ellie Stewart. She was again in the right place in the 44th minute to beat away Lindsay Johnson's header, but Boye-Hlorkah was on hand to steer home the rebound and give Everton the lead on the stroke of half-time.
But the U's responded well to falling behind and just six minutes into the second half they were level. Only a phenomenal save from the Everton keeper at full stretch denied Hines an equaliser as she pushed the midfielder's powerful header just past the upright. But from the resulting corner Hines was on hand to volley home after sneaking in unnoticed at the back post.
Stung, the hosts soon struck back. Danielle Turner got in behind the United defence within minutes of the restart and came just a whisker away from restoring Everton's advantage, dragging her shot across the face of goal and inches wide. But Everton would not have to wait long, Lambourne again being called upon to block Jess King's effort, with the ball then ricocheting out to Kelly Jones to blast home from the edge of the area.
With the match being played at a fast and furious pace, it was soon United's turn to respond. Just three minutes after falling behind they were level again when Hines again found herself unmarked at a corner, rising highest to head in another excellent delivery.
Former England international Lindsay Johnson, playing her final match before retirement, was the hero for the hosts in the 74th minute, capitalising on confusion in the United area to poke the ball into the net from close range.
United were dealt a further blow soon after when, having made all three substitutions, defender Rosie Lane was forced off with an ankle injury, leaving the U's to play out the remaining ten minutes with only ten players.
King put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time, racing through the heart of the defence to meet a superb through ball, poking it just beyond the outstretched hands of the outrushing Hannah Cox in goal.
United: Lambourne (Cox 78), Hines, Osborne-Ricketts, Lane, Nutman, Allison, Toussaint (Pinker 72), Pickett, Lee, Scanlon (Baker 63), Bruce.
Report by Matt Bruce.