Oxford United Women suffered their first defeat of the FAWNL Southern Premier Division campaign yesterday, losing 2-1 away to Cheltenham Town Ladies at the Corinium Stadium.
Despite a bright start, and a barrage of dangerous crosses and blocked shots, United went into the break 2-0 down due to goals from Issy Newns and Laura Holden.
Iesha Swaby, who had her best game in a Yellow shirt, pulled United back into the game with an excellent turn and half volley, but the U’s just couldn’t get the ball over the line for an equaliser.
The result, and Portsmouth’s win at Gillingham, saw the U’s drop off the top of the table into second place. However, the U’s are only one point behind Pompey with a game in hand.
Watford also scored a late equaliser against Ipswich to leave the U’s four points clear of the Tractor Girls and seven ahead of the Hornets.
Manager Liam Gilbert told us
“It was a frustrating day but fair play to Cheltenham who had a game plan and stuck to it which frustrated us for large periods of time. A few lapses in concentration where punished, and then we huffed and puffed and played some very good football, but we just didn’t have that clinical edge.
“We missed some good chances, the keeper’s made some great saves and body on the line defending from Cheltenham means they did a great job. This is now a mentality thing to see what reaction we get; we can’t fault the effort and work rate but that doesn’t win you games of football on its own. It’s that composure, that understanding and that bravery in the final third, and we just need to be more ruthless.
“It seemed to be one of those days, the ball didn’t drop as we’d have liked it to, but I still think we need to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drive and push things a little more, that’s us as coaching staff as well.
“We live and we learn, last week was a test of character but this is an even bigger one now. Last week was the cup and it was a free hit of a game, whereas this one hurts.”
The U’s will look to make things right as they travel to Billericay Town Women next Sunday, who frustrated the U’s with a 1-1 draw at Court Place Farm earlier in the season.