Oxford United Women’s pre-season campaign came to a close with a 1-0 defeat against AFC Wimbledon yesterday.
However United manager Liam Gilbert highlighted United’s productive pre-season schedule and summer recruitment despite defeat.
With the sun shining on The U’s startes strongly and Emily Wallace’s effort at goal from the right flank crashed against the Wimbledon crossbar but that move proved to be one of United’s highlights of the first half.
Early in the second Carly Johns pounced after some of United’s best spells in possession, with the young winger intelligently finding space on the left and carrying the ball into the box on several occasions – only a series of blocks and saves from a resilient Wimbledon defence came between The U’s and an opening goal.
Despite United’s good work in possession it was a surprise long-range strike on goal from Wimbledon which dipped under the crossbar and into the net to put the visitors ahead.
The Dons had the chance to double their advantage but a remarkable save from substitute keeper Rose Kite kept it at 1-0.
United boss Gilbert told us
“There’s lots to be excited about this season – first of all football is back! I’m excited to see what happens and the main thing for us is to get better week after week, month after month, year after year, which is what we have built ourselves upon over the last two years.”
“We’ve managed to bring in not just good players, but good people as well.”
Adding to last season’s players, the additions of Kite, Lily Stevens, Hannah Mackenzie, Emily Wallace and Taome Oliver have further bolstered the quality of United’s squad – with the Manager adding that all the new additions have “bought into the club philosophy and understanding very quickly.”
“I think pre-season has gone really well - the objectives which we set out we have achieved. It’s been quite productive; the staff and players that have come in have bought into everything that we want to do, and I think that has taken us up a step from where we were this time last year.
“I think we have looked really sharp and Dean [Tetley] who has been brought in to help with physical performance has done a great job. The programmes and plans that he has given to the girls, they have done well with.
“Gillingham next weekend will be a good test. They’ll be a good team; they always are physical and well organised. Six months has been a long time since our last game, but we will be ready to go next weekend.”
Supporters can follow all of the action and updates next Sunday on Facebook @OxfordUnitedWomen, Twitter & Instagram @OfficialOUWFC as well as a range of features throughout the week.