Oxford United Women secured arguably their best result of the season so far on Sunday when they beat top-of-the-table Chichester City Ladies 1-0, thanks to a second-half header from Georgia Timms.
Frustrated at having last weekend’s game at Portsmouth being postponed, it meant that United went in to the game fresh from their 7-1 thumping of QPR. They certainly started confidently and matched the visitors stride for stride in the opening stages.
United goalkeeper Lucy Thomas had to be alert to come charging out of her area to head clear from a long ball forward, but it was the U’s who created the first real goalscoring chance when Cat Beaver’s header came back off the foot of the post as she connected well from an Ellie Noble free-kick.
There followed a spell of Chichester pressure as the league leaders went close through Molly Clark before Tash Stephens forced Thomas into a good save with her feet, but United held firm and on 27 minutes forced Lauren Dolbear into an excellent save from a flowing move that started with Thomas and ended with Timms’ drive that the Chichester keeper palmed away.
Thomas then presented Cherelle Khassal with the ball but the keeper redeemed herself by saving the resulting shot and at the break neither side had been able to find a breakthrough.
The visitors started the second half strongly, snapping into tackles and winning most of the 50-50 balls and Thomas was forced into a good save from Sara Tubby following a defensive error. Clark then saw her dipping 30-yard shot scrape the top of the bar before United took the lead in the 66th minute.
Ellie Noble’s left-wing corner into the danger area dropped just out of reach of Dolbear, who had come to punch, and the ball fell for Timms who header home past a covering defender.
With Chichester looking for a way back into the game, Stephens tried a speculative shot from the corner of the area that had Thomas back peddling to tip over before Emily Allen had a good chance to extend Oxford’s lead as she was played through but shot wide as Dolbear came out to narrow the angle.
As the game drew to a close Chichester ratcheted up the pressure, with Oxford throwing their bodies on the line to block a succession of shots. There were some worrying moments in stoppage time as Chichester won successive corners, going close from one ball across the face of the goal that they were unable to reach.
However, United held out and there were joyous scenes as the final whistle blew for Oxford’s third successive league win, which extended their unbeaten league run to five games.
Thomas, Baker, Mobbs, Sims, Gane, Fyfe, Haynes, Beaver, Noble (Lancaster 86), Timms (Williams 78), Allen
Unused subs: Sercombe, Stroem, Bent