Oxford United Women beat title rivals Portsmouth Women 2-1 away from home this afternoon.
Portsmouth took the lead midway through the second half through Dani Lane, before Taome Oliver levelled immediately for the U's. Carly Johns then earned United a huge three points with a winner in added time.
United were gifted an early chance to take the lead when former U’s player Evie Gane tripped Carly Johns in the box within sixty seconds. Johns was hurt in the process and couldn’t take the penalty, so Daisy McLachlan stepped up.
Pompey keeper Hannah Haughton stood strong, guessed the right way and made a good save to deny the U’s winger from the spot and the chance was spurned.
That miss put a fire in the U’s bellies. Leah Burridge was found after a superb chop inside by Shelly Provan on the edge of the box, but her first time effort was denied by the Pompey shot-stopper.
Haughton has recently hit the 100-game landmark for Portsmouth, and proved her worth again in the 10th minute, when Tash Stephens won the ball back and fed Johns. The U’s striker weaved through the Blue defence and looked certain to score, but was met by a magnificent block by Haughton.
United completely controlled the first half, Amy Goddard and Riva Casley dictating play from the back. Winger Sophie Quirk was the only real Pompey threat, but Jaime Gotch did well to deal with her skill and pace.
On the half hour mark, the travelling U’s in Westleigh Park were celebrating, as Johns drove past Jazz Younger to the byline and pulled it back to Taome Oliver who slotted home. Those celebrations were cut short as the referee blew his whistle, adjudging Johns to have dribbled the ball off the pitch. Fine margins, and the teams went into the break goalless and level.
The second half started as the first did, with the U's dominating possession and Pompey only finding outlets through Quirk down the left.
Jenna Legg almost scored a screamer with five minutes gone, letting fly from 40 yards and grazing the top of the net, with Haughton looking worried as the ball sailed over her.
But, against the run of play, it was Portsmouth who opened the scoring. Goddard tripped the dangerous Quirk, and from the free kick Dani Lane looped the ball over Rose Kite with her headed effort in the 55th minute.
This United side's mentality is incredible, and they showed that yet again with an instant response. McLachlan drove down the left and floated a delightful ball over the top to find Oliver's late run. The midfielder obliged and got the slightest of touches with her head to glance the ball past Haughton for the leveller three minutes later.
The U's continued to hunt Pompey down in numbers and thought they had the lead when Legg sliced an effort into the path of McLachlan who lifted the ball over the keeper, but the flag denied the yellow lead again.
Liam Gilbert tried to switch things up as the game got scrappy with Naomi Cole and Lacy Liggett replacing Oliver and Tash Stephens within the final 15 minutes.
United's performance was excellent, and they found the deserved winner to stay at the top spot in the Southern Premier Division.
Johns, United's top scorer, found some space in the box, cut past Younger and curled one in to the top corner to earn United all three points with her twentieth of the season.
A huge win. A huge performance. What a side.
LINEUP: Kite, Provan, Casley, Goddard, Gotch, Legg, Burridge, Oliver (Cole 76), McLachlan, Johns, Stephens (Liggett 83)