Despite plenty of chances and controlling possession, Oxford United Women fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Gillingham in the FA Women's National League South this afternoon.
Having scored 27 goals in their last three matches, United were made to be patient in the first half but had a handful of chances to break the deadlock at a sunny Court Place Farm. Daisy McLachlan found a lot of space down the U’s right wing and tested the goalkeeper with the game’s first effort when she shifted the ball onto her left but her shot lacked power and was comfortable for the Gillingham stopper.
Emily Allen then worked the ball nicely on to her right 15 minutes into the game and fizzed in a shot but her effort bounced just wide. United had plenty of opportunities to break the deadlock and went the closest on 18 through Allen again; the winger burst forward into the area and stabbed her shot wide of the mark.
Still United came forward but everything they threw at Gillingham was matched by goalkeeper Cara Davies. The Gillingham ‘keeper saved well on three occasions, denying McLachlan, Hines and Timms as the U’s searched for the opener but Gillingham did well to keep the scores level at half time.
Shortly after the restart, despite the U’s first half dominance it was in fact the visitors who took the lead. Hines gave away a freekick 30 yards from goal and the Gillingham midfielder fancied her chances from range. Her effort looped over Aimee Watson and despite her best efforts to claw the ball away, was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Advantage Gillingham. But after a slow start to the half this kicked the U’s back into life as United were immediately pressing their opponents again. Williams hooked an effort wide before Allen was set free by Baker forcing Davies into yet another save.
Hines was next to try her luck from distance. From a headed clearance, the U’s midfielder attempted a spectacular volley from the edge of the area which went narrowly wide.
Just as United were finding their stride again in the second half, Gillingham were handed an opportunity to double their lead from the spot after a forward was tripped in the area. Gillingham made no mistake from 12 yards placing the penalty in off the bar leaving Watson with no chance.
On came Moore for McLachlan who had a good game on the wing and United came so close to their first of the afternoon 20 minutes from time. Williams crashed a freekick against the bar but still United couldn’t find a goal. Gillingham's goalkeeper was forced off ten minutes from time through injury and was replaced by an outfield player.
Timms scored a late goal from the penalty spot to give United hope but it wasn't enough as United fell to a 2-1 defeat.
We would like to thank all 143 of you who came out to support the girls today and help raise money for Against Breast Cancer as the U's continue its support towards Breast Cancer Awareness Month
UNITED: Watson, Clifford, Lancaster, Sims, Searle, Hines, Baker (Johns), Williams, McLachlan (Moore), Timms, Allen
Unused subs: Sercombe, Kirby, Bent
Report by Liam Potter