Oxford United Women made a winning start to the 2020/21 National League season today, beating Gillingham 1-0 courtesy of a Carly Johns back-post tap in at the Rochester United Sports Ground.
Both sides started the contest in an urgent fashion but it was the home side who looked to put the pressure on United early on as a succession of corners were dealt with by debutant Rose Kite in goal.
The U’s' best passages of play throughout the first half took place on the left flank through Georgia Hayes linking up with another debutant, midfielder Lily Stevens.
Defender Taome Oliver came closest on 40 minutes with her run into space seeing Gillingham goalkeeper Davies rush out and handle, earning a yellow card although United fired over the bar from the following free kick.
With Johns and Allen swapping wings to provide a new threat to the home side’s full-backs, Oxford piled on the pressure, wary of the Gillingham counter attack and five minutes into the second half had a penalty shout waved away when Oliver went to ground in the box. But the U’s didn’t have to wait long when Johns intelligently made a late run to the far post to score United’s first goal of the season.
Gillingham left their best moment of the game until the 86th minute when Kite was beaten to the ball but Emily Wallace made a superb recovery to clear the danger.
United held firm despite late pressure with a good team performance and a win after their 196-day wait for league action.
UNITED WOMEN: Kite, Wallace, Sims, Haynes, Beaver, Oliver, Johns (Peters 72’), Allen, Stevens (Brown 77’), Bensted (Mackenzie 89’), Hayes
Substitutes: Sercombe, Baker,