Oxford United Women made it a good weekend all round for the U's when they won for the fifth game running and kept their fourth consecutive clean sheet, as they beat a resilient Gillingham Ladies 1-0 at Court Place Farm on Sunday, thanks to Flo Fyfe’s 12th goal of the season.
United had to wait until the 50th minute before Fyfe collected the ball in midfield and drove forward through the Gillingham defence and planted the ball into the bottom corner beyond Courtney Shanly. Oxford deservedly went on to win the game, having the majority of possession and looking the likelier side to score, despite not creating many chances in the first half.
Indeed, it was the visitors that went closest to grabbing the opener just a minute before the break, when a rash challenge on Breon Grant saw her go down in the area, the referee agreeing with her claims for a penalty. However, it was goalkeeper Lucy Thomas who was United’s hero, flinging herself to her right to palm away Ellie Manning’s spot kick and keep Oxford in the game.
Fyfe had been the liveliest player in the first period and it was her persistence that kept Gillingham on the back foot for much of the first half hour. She brought a good save out of Shanly in just the fourth minute with a shot on the turn that the keeper had to tip over, and three minutes later Shanly again denied Fyfe, whose cross looked like sneaking in at the back post before being parried away from danger.
Fyfe had another shot from distance go wide in the 11th minute and ten minutes later Shanly spilled Emily Allen’s low cross and Georgia Timms almost turned the loose ball home before it was scrambled away.
United looked like they would rue these missed chances as the Gills came into the game, and in the ten minutes before the break Georgia Sims had to make excellent tackles to deny first Alice Bussey and then five minutes later Grace Seely. Then came the penalty drama and Thomas’s save to bring the first half to a close.
The second half started with both sides having opportunities, United through Fyfe and then Beaver, before the game’s first moment of real quality from Fyfe to break the deadlock.
After that, it was a question of game management for the U’s, who nevertheless kept probing for opportunities, coming closest to a second in the 86th minute as Lauren Haynes made space for a shot that skimmed the top of the crossbar. United saw the game out well, with Thomas untroubled for the majority of the second half.
The win keeps Oxford fourth in the league going into a break, with their next game on 13th March at second-placed Coventry United Ladies, who are currently unbeaten in the league.
United: Thomas, Haynes, Mobbs, Allen, Noble, Timms (Williams 89), Fyfe (Hennessy 90+5), Baker, Sims, Gane, Beaver (Lancaster 82)