Women lose first game of the season at Northcourt RoadOxford United Women lost their opening game of the season, beaten 5-3 by Millwall Lionesses in a great advert for WSL2 at Northcourt Road.
With the visitors being held up in traffic, kick-off was delayed by an hour, forcing the hardy supporters who had arrived on time to take refuge from the cold and rain in a crowded bar. However, the large Bank Holiday crowd were eventually treated to the debut appearances of Riva Casley, Ini Umotong and Katja Hakala and an excellent game of football.
United looked lively from the off, forcing three corners in the opening minutes and going twice through Kat Nutman and Umotong. However they fell behind against the run of play 11 minutes in in freak circumstances. Jess Frampton's attempted clearance looped up in the air and wasn't dealt with, allowing Ashlee Hincks to get in behind and flick it over the head of stranded goalkeeper Demi Lambourne.
United responded well though and just seven minutes later they were level with a fine goal. Jess Frampton floated a free-kick into the box for Lauren Allison to hook over her shoulder and into the far corner.
Allison was just inches away from her second goal of the evening, when a ball across goal was missed by everyone, but despite sliding in at full stretch she was unable to turn it into the empty net. But just moments later, United again found themselves behind when Lucy Loomes was allowed to get in behind the defence and tip the ball past the keeper. Riva Casley was waiting on the line for it, but her attempted clearance found its way back to Loomes who sidefooted into the unguarded net.
They fell further behind just six minutes into the second half when Loomes again got the wrong side and slotted it beyond the helpless Lambourne. It was 4-1 soon after when the impressive HIncks ;et fly from 25 yards, but that sparked a superb comaback from the U's who made it 4-2 when Finnish full back Katja Hakala crossed and Umotong steered a header over the Lions Keeper. It was then 4-3 and all to play for when Allison's pace again took her clear and Laura Nichol slid in to put the loose ball away.
It was end to end stuff and anyone's game but with time running out a looping cross was bundled over the line by sub Rinsola Babajide to make it 5-3 and ensure that it was the Lions who got their season off to the perfect start.
United had played a full part in a thoroughly enjoyable game of football. Plenty of promise from Les Taylor's young side.
United: Lambourne, Frampton, Haynes, Casley, Lane (Deeley 75), Umotong, Nutman (Timms 80), Allison, Franklin-Fraiture, Nichol, Hakala.
Report by Matt Bruce.