United women earn 1-1 draw at the Seagulls
Evie Gane scored a superb first goal for Oxford United Women as they picked up their first point of the Spring Series with a 1-1 draw at Brighton on Sunday.
The Yellows made their intent clear from the outset. Captain Lauren Haynes and fellow midfielder Ellie Noble regularly looking for striker Ini Umotong over the top. Haynes managed to find space five minutes in for a deflected shot which wrong-footed the goalkeeper - unfortunately for Oxford, the ball drifted wide of the post. In the 10th minute there was a moment of controversy as Umotong burst through, clear on goal. The referee blew for a foul but the Albion player, Charlotte Young, was only given a yellow card.
After the 20th minute, Brighton kept the ball well amongst their defenders and enjoyed a spell of possession, while the away team’s defence themselves stayed resolute. However in the 32nd minute Bronwen Thomas broke through down the left, cut in on her right and struck a shot towards Demi Lambourne. The unfortunate Riva Casley looked to get a block on the ball but could only deflect it past her own goalkeeper.
United looked promising in attack during the latter stages of the half with Ella Franklin-Fraiture consistently looking for the runs of Umotong, and in the 38th minute she found her with a fantastic lofted pass; the striker’s shot creeping just over the bar.
The second half started with Oxford very much in control of the ball and in the 68th minute Gane – making her debut - produced a moment of magic. Receiving the ball on the left-wing she flicked the ball through the legs of the defender and cut in towards the edge of the box. Composing herself, she whipped a curling shot into the top-right corner, over the helpless goalkeeper.
From there, The Yellows seized control and looked to capitalise on their momentum. Umotong, in particular, grew more into the game as the defence behind her held firm. With 25 minutes remaining she stormed past three Albion defenders – starting the run in her own half – and found Emily Donovan in space. Brighton goalkeeper Emma Byrne was equal to her shot, though.
With tired legs taking hold, United looked for one final push. Umotong controlled a Noble cross on her chest, before firing a left footed half-volley just wide of the mark. Haynes typified the Yellows commitment to the cause by throwing her body in the way of two Brighton shots with just minutes remaining.
Under new First Team Manager Andy Cook, Oxford looked settled in defence and threatening in attack. A strong showing in his first game gives promise to what could be achieved in the future for this side.
Oxford United Women: Lambourne; Deeley, Casley, Lane, Frampton; Haynes, Noble (Baker 86’), Franklin-Fraiture; Donovan, Umotong, Gane (Roberts 88’)
Subs not used: Thomas
Report by Dan McClue