Oxford United Women ended their campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Loughborough as Emily Allen’s late header cancels out Rebecca McGrother’s opener.
Both sides went into the game knowing that regardless of the result their league positions wouldn’t change, and for United that meant a credible fourth place finish after a summer of upheaval.
Loughborough started brightly and gave United a warning in just the fourth minute when the pace of Eva Rogers caused issues down the Oxford left and her ball into the box was well defended by Stephanie Mobbs.
Oxford began to get a grip on possession and control the midfield, but chances were at a premium. Evie Gane headed just wide from an Ellie Noble corner and on another occasion a whipped Noble cross just evaded the onrushing Georgia Timms, but neither side were able to find the break through and the sides went in level at the break.
The second half United started brightly, testing the Foxes 'keeper Amy Burle, but the home side stood firm.
United felt they should have had a penalty in the 64th minute when Timms ran across a defender and looked to have been clipped from behind. The assistant on the far side agreed and flagged for a spot kick, but the referee was not convinced and waved away the Oxford protests.
On the 78th minute Oxford were undone as a lofted ball through the middle found McGrother whose excellent first touch saw her race through on goal and finish calmly past Lucy Thomas in the United goal.
With just 12 minutes of the season remaining and places decided the Oxford players could perhaps be forgiven for letting their heads drop for the remaining minutes, but United have shown this season they have resilience in spades and just 2 minutes later they were back on level terms.
Substitute Flo Fyfe worked half a yard of space out wide on the right before her floated cross was perfectly met but Allen to head home. Both sides pressed for a winner, but time ran out on them and the referee brought the season to a close.
For Oxford they will be relatively happy with finishing fourth, especially after a summer of rebuilding and a poor start, but a long unbeaten league run shows signs of what could be achieved by Liam Gilbert’s developing side next season. See you in August.
Oxford United: Thomas, Baker, Mobbs, Sims, Bent (Fyfe), Allen, Noble, Haynes, Gane, Williams (Lancaster), Timms
Subs (Unused): Lynch, Sercombe