Oxford United Women progressed to the Fourth Round of the Vitality Women's FA Cup with a 3-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle Women this afternoon.
Lily Stevens and Leah Burridge scored in the first half, with Daisy McLachlan sealing the victory in the 68th minute.
Many may have been surprised to wake up and see the game still on given the bitterly cold conditions, but the pitch at Court Place Farm held up well and United started on fire.
Liam Gilbert stuck with the front three that started in the 13-0 victory over Liskeard Athletic last Sunday, and that decision paid off almost instantly, as Stevens put United ahead with just five minutes played. Jess Gray and Iesha Swaby combined excellently down the right, and after a few ricochets in the Plymouth box, the ball eventually fell to the Oxford midfielder, who calmly slotted home for her second of the season.
Plymouth didn’t freeze though, and almost scored straight from the restart, with captain Zoe Cunningham pulling the strings in Argyle’s midfield.
King almost scored her second minutes later, firing a ferocious effort towards the top corner, only to be denied by the fingertips of Jasmine Read tipping the ball onto the bar.
United started to pile on the pressure and had chances to double their lead. McLachlan almost scored goal of the season, juggling the ball over two defenders before putting just too much on her half-volleyed effort.
Rose Kite made a huge save with five minutes of the half to play. Georgia Wilson broke through one on one, but United’s keeper came out and made herself big to block the effort and maintain the Yellows’ lead.
It was a decisive moment, as United went down the other end and Leah Burridge, who scored twice away at Plymouth early in the season, earned the U's a two-goal cushion going into the break. McLachlan fed the midfielder, who slid in to get a toe on the ball and tuck it underneath Read, thus beginning the long queue for a half-time-hot-drink for many at Court Place Farm.
Much like the fixture between the two in August, Plymouth came out flying in the second half. Georgia Wilson and Charlotte Whitmore both went close to finding a way back into the game, the best of which forced another huge save from Kite in the 64th minute.
Jess Gray made way for Georgia Hayes in the 65th minute, who came on to make her first appearance of the season.
United absorbed the pressure, and had chances of their own. Shelly Provan should've put the game to bed, slicing a volley wide from 10 yards out with the goal wide open.
The full back made up for that error though, driving down the left and finding an immaculate pass into the box. Iesha Swaby got there first and set the ball back to McLachlan who curled home into the bottom right corner to make it 3-0 to Oxford in the 68th minute.
Sammy Wynne then replaced goalscorer Burridge with just over ten minutes to play, before United made a triple change with minutes to go. Oana Negrea, Erin Hartigan and Hermione Prescott replaced Naomi Cole, King and Swaby.
In the end it was a fairly comfortable victory for United, who end the year unbeaten at home in 2022. They'll now eagerly anticpate the Fourth Round Draw, as Women's Super League sides come into the fold. First though, the U's travel to Portsmouth Women in the FAWNL Cup next Sunday.
LINEUP: Kite, Gray (Hayes, 65), Gotch, Casley, Provan, Cole (Prescott, 89'), Stevens, Burridge (Wynne, 78'), King (Negrea, 89'), Swaby (Hartigan, 89'), McLachlan