Cook hoping for a win on familiar territory
Oxford United Women are back in action this Sunday, taking the long journey to face Durham Women away.
Having drawn their last game 0-0 against Aston Villa Ladies, and with a two week training period, The Yellows are full of confidence. Durham, meanwhile, are top of the WSL2 Spring Series table, with two wins and a draw in their first three games.
Manager Andy Cook recently joined Oxford from this weekend’s opponents, but he certainly isn’t letting that become a distraction.
“I’m excited for the game – it’s always nice to go home to the North-East. I’m thankful to Durham, they gave me a chance to coach in the WSL, unfortunately things didn't work out, but that's sport. Durham’s loss is Oxford’s gain.”
A win is always in the manager's sights, whomever the opponent. “I’m focused solely on Oxford United and what we can do. Yes, going back to a club you’ve worked for before has an extra edge for some people, and some may think I want to go and prepare the team to prove Durham wrong, but for me that doesn't matter too much. It’s always about the process, and like I’ve said previously; the Spring Series is all about leading into the WSL Season this winter. We want to continue the work we have put in over the last 3 weeks. “
Patience in the process is something the manager preaches, and the weeks off have given the team a chance to bond, while taking on board Andy’s all important instructions. “Since the Aston Villa game it’s been very much the players getting to know me on the training ground, and equally me getting to know them. I have a certain way I work - it all links to our game model and what we are trying to achieve. We have the 4 phases of the game and depending on what we are looking to achieve we work through those over a number of sessions. But it’s a slow process of giving the players the info session-upon-session. You can’t expect players to do something if you haven't taught them it! I’m fortunate, as all the players are excellent here at Oxford - they are young and hungry to learn.”
Striker Ini Umotong mirrors the Manager's upbeat vibes and likes the progress they are seeing on the training pitch. “The attitude and atmosphere in training has been really good - it's down to us now to take this into games. We're getting more and more confident as a unit which has reflected in the recent games.”
The newfound linkup play that they have been building during training sessions is evident during games, Ini believes. It could result in more widespread scoring throughout the team.
“Recent games have shown a lot of players pushing forward and being a threat in front of goal, so if we can take our chances there could be a few players on the goal scoring charts.”
She believes the long trip up North may actually benefit the team, giving them an opportunity to spend more time around one-another. “We stay overnight in Durham on the Saturday, so there's a lot of team bonding that occurs as a result. This can only work in our favour.”
Andy has a positive outlook with regards to this team, and it’s important for them to keep their focus in order to secure a first win of the Spring Series. “We need to maintain our quality in possession and discipline out of possession. In front of goal we need to be calm, and think correctly when defending the goal. It’s a simple game when we talk about it. Once the game starts we will see how it unfolds. As ever, if we do the right things we will be successful.”
Oxford United Women take on Durham Women, kick off is at 12:00 on Sunday 2nd April.