U's pegged back as they draw in WSL2
The prolific Ini Umotong added another two goals to her account as Oxford United Women were held to a 2-2 draw at home to FA Women's Super League 2 leaders Yeovil Town. A first-half double from the U's top scorer put Oxford two goals to the good, but they were pegged back by Hannah Short before the break, before Ellie Curson equalised after the break.
With captain Kat Nutman ruled out with a slight knee injury, Laura Nichol came back into the starting XI, while Lauren Allison returned to the side in place of young Georgia Timms, who dropped to the bench.
The visitors arrived at the Northcourt looking to consolidate their place at the top of the league, but it was United who struck the first blow, taking the lead after just three minutes when top scorer Umotong raced onto Ella Franklin-Fraiture's speculative clipped ball forward, poking it past the onrushing Charlotte Haynes in the Yeovil goal.
She could have doubled her tally just three minutes later after plowing through the Yeovil backline with a powerful run, but she was unable to hit the target.
At the other end, Atlanta Primus saw her header cleared off the line from a Yeovil corner, while goalkeeper Hannah Cox was forced to palm away Sarah Wiltshire's curling effort.
However, it was United – and Umotong in particular – who continued to pose the bigger threat. Exchanging passes brilliantly with Franklin-Fraiture, Umotong found herself in behind once again in the 15th minute, but the recovering Yeovil defence marshalled her well as she scuffed her effort. Umotong wouldn't be denied, however, and got the second goal she had been threatening midway through the half, twisting through two challenges before rolling past the helpless goalkeeper and in off the base of the post.
The two-goal advantage lasted just a minute as the visitors immediately struck back from a corner. Sarah Wiltshire's header rebounded off the post to be flicked on to Hannah Short to nod in at the back post.
United responded well, with Holly Pickett seeing her powerful strike tipped over the bar by the keeper's fingertips. And the Yeovil stopper was on hand to keep out Georgia Timms just moments later, the substitute striking from edge of the area after brilliantly exchanging passes with Franklin-Fraiture.
The visitors threatened an equaliser in the closing stages of the half and had the ball in the back of the net when Ellis Hillman volleyed home Wiltshire's cross, only to be denied by the offside flag. And just moments before half-time, Wiltshire found herself unmarked at the back post, heading back across goal and narrowly wide.
It was one-way traffic after the break as the visitors sought and equaliser and they finally got it 12 minutes after the restart. Ellie Curson swung in a speculative effort from wide on the right-hand side, catching goalkeeper Hannah Cox off her line as she could only watch it sail over her head and into the far corner of the net.
Umotong continued to remain a threat on the break, playing in Pickett for a first-time effort which was well held by the Yeovil keeper, before having a go herself minutes later and seeing her effort flash just wide of the post.
However, it was the visitors who pressed hardest for a winning goal, only to be thwarted by some superb United defending. Short was denied a second goal by a last-ditch deflection which carried her back-post volley safely over the bar. Cox did well to stop substitute Kelly Aldridge at her near post after the winger had found herself unmarked in front of goal.
Chelsea loanee Laura Rafferty thought she had given Oxford the winner on the final moments in just her second appearance for the club, nodding in from close range after a long ball forward had been headed back by Umotong. However, the United striker was adjudged to have been offside and Rafferty's celebrations were cut short.
And it was the U's who finished the match on top as Yeovil dug in for a point. A nasty collision between Umotong and Yeovil's Haynes resulted in a lengthy stoppage which saw the Glovers stopper stretchered off, but United were unable to test her replacement in the final moments and had to settle for a point.
United: Cox, Frampton, Haynes, Lane, Umotong, Allison (Noble 71), Franklin-Fraiture, Pickett, Nichol, Rafferty, Lee (Timms 12). Subs not used: Baker, Deeley, Dyer, Lambourne.
Report by Matt Bruce.