U's progress to first round of the Continental Cup with victory over Lionesses
Oxford United are into the first round of the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup following a 1-0 win over Millwall Lionesses on Sunday. The U's made it back-to-back victories thanks to Georgia Timms' late header, setting up a first-round meeting with Birmingham City.
There was a party atmosphere at the Northcourt as a bumper crowd of 405, still celebrating from the men's team's promotion success the day before, gathered to cheer United as they kicked off their Continental Cup campaign.
After picking up their first points of the season last weekend with a 1-0 home win over Sheffield, United boss Les Taylor stuck with most of the same side for the visit of Millwall, with just one enforced change. With captain Kat Nutman out injured, Lauren Allison came into the side on the right wing, with Laura Nichol moving into a central position.
Goalkeeper Hannah Cox was called into action early on, having to react quickly to tip away Ashlee Hincks' inswinging corner at full stretch, which was heading for the top corner.
At the other end, defender Riva Casley was responsible for most of United's most threatening moments. First she headed narrowly over from Jess Frampton's corner in just the second minute before firing a 22nd-minute free-kick narrowly over the bar from just outside the area.
There was a nervy moment in first-half stoppage time when a scramble ensued in the Oxford box. Naomi Cole fired goalwards, but her effort was blocked by Lucy Loomes, allowing the United defence to clear. Fliss Gibbons also went close right on the stroke of half-time, floating an effort across goal from the left-hand edge of the box and just wide.
United were by far the brighter side after the break, with the lively Lauren Allison tearing through the centre of the Millwall backline, teeing up Holly Pickett to poke over. Allison herself cleared the bar with an effort of her own just moments later, trying an ambitious shot from a long way out after exchanging passes well with Ella Franklin-Fraiture.
The pair linked up again when Franklin-Fraiture's glorious cross-field ball set the pacy winger free, but she was unable to get the ball out from under her feet before being closed down by Millwall keeper Sarah Quantrill.
Frampton went even closer shortly after as United began to bombard the Lionesses goalmouth. Arriving late to meet Allison's corner, her powerful headers looked destined for the bottom corner, only to be cleared off the line and away from trouble.
But the breakthrough finally came 11 minutes from time. Less than a minute after replacing an injured Laure Nichol, Georgia Timms found herself in the right place to head home. Umotong beat the defender out on the right wing before cutting inside and shooting low at goal. Quantrill got a hand to it, but was unable to stop the ball bouncing up into the air for the lurking Timms to pounce.
United still needed some excellent last ditch defending from Frampton and Katja Hakala in the closing stages to see the game as the visitors sought a late equaliser, but the U's were otherwide untroubled.
United will now host WSL 1 side Birmingham City in the first round on either 2nd or 3rd July. Further details to be confirmed.
United: Cox, Frampton, Haynes, Casley, Umotong, Allison, Franklin-Fraiture, Pickett (Deeley 88), Nichol (Timms 78), Hakala, Lee. Subs not used: Bruce, Baker, Lambourne