Oxford United Women equalised in added time to draw 1-1 with Watford FC Women.
United conceded in the fifth minute when Megan Chandler found the back of the net, but despite creating a number of chances, struggled to find a way back into the game. Then, in stoppage time, they found the leveler they deserved as Leah Burridge headed home for the equaliser.
Lacy-Jai Liggett came straight into the side for her full Oxford United debut, with fellow new signing Oana Negrea on the bench. Lauren Haynes also returned to the team after being rested last weekend in the League Cup.
Watford came into the game having scored 12 unanswered in their last two outings, and they looked goal hungry from the start. Five minutes in, a Hornets’ corner resulted in pinball in the Oxford box and the ball eventually fell to the visitors’ captain Megan Chandler, who struck low into the net.
United went behind for the first time this season but reacted well; Leah Burridge and Carly Johns both had chances within the first ten minutes, but neither could find a clinical finish.
What unravelled was a good game of football as both teams committed to knocking the ball around in the Autumn sun. United’s best moment of the half came in the 24th minute; Lauren Haynes dropped deep to receive the ball from Rose Kite and linked up with the midfield and forwards nicely to find Daisy McLachlan out wide, but she could only find the gloves of Georgie Ferguson in goal.
Debutant Liggett was United’s brightest spark in the first 45, winning her physical battles and working tirelessly, but Oxford couldn’t find the equaliser and went into the break a goal behind.
With just over half an hour to go, United gave the ball away in a dangerous position. Gemma Davison pounced and forced a very good save from Rose Kite and Riva Casley swept up. A lengthy stoppage followed as Andria Georgiou, who had already been booked, lunged late into the Oxford centre-half.
The Yellows had less of the ball than they are used to at Court Place Farm but were able to carve out chances against a resolute Watford side. In the space of two minutes, Johns came close twice. Once from an acrobatic volley and the other from a dipping effort from 20 yards which moved in the air, but just past the post.
United’s centre-midfield duo of Naomi Cole and Haynes were both booked before Erin Hartigan replaced Liggett with 15 minutes to go.
United’s captain Haynes was forced off with an injury, being replaced by Sophie Baker. Oana Negrea also made her Oxford United debut, replacing McLachlan in the 87th minute.
United had gone 1,058 days unbeaten at Court Place Farm, and that run was not to end today.
Andria Georgiou was sent off for Watford in the 94th minute for a second yellow card after a foul on Negrea. Unbelievably, Naomi Cole’s resulting free kick found the rising Leah Burridge who headed home to level the game at the death. United were saved by the league’s top scorer, who notched her seventh of the season
United clasped on to their unbeaten run at Court Place Farm, which spans almost three years. They’ll look to extend that next weekend as they host Ipswich Town Women at home.
United: Kite, Stevens, Casley, Gotch, Provan, Cole, Haynes (Baker, 80’), Burridge, Johns, McLachlan (Negrea, 87’), Liggett (Hartigan, 75’)