Oxford United Women returned to the pitch on Sunday after almost four months away with a fantastic win in Cardiff, and Manager Liam Gilbert was delighted to see his side progress in the FA Cup.
“I thought the girls were absolutely tremendous" he told us. "I can’t speak highly enough of the work they’ve done during the week, but also how it showed on the pitch. It wasn’t just about the eleven who started the game; the subs came on and made a massive impact for us and those who didn’t make it onto the pitch have been fantastic all week in training.
"I couldn’t be prouder of this group of players; they’ve done themselves proud and the club proud."
Liam’s side couldn’t have had a better start to the contest, going ahead inside two minutes through Georgia Brown’s close-range effort. The young midfielder’s good performance was the result of hard work over lockdown and in training.
“I guess if you could plan a start, that’s something which you’d ask for, and fair play to Georgia. We’ve spoken about a few things in the week and today she got herself in the right position and took her goal very well" Liam said.
“All the players have pushed each other on this week, now the atmosphere in the changing room will be fantastic and they deserve it, every single one of them. Also, the staff over the last month have been superb as well with the work they’ve done.”
Brown reflected on her match-winning goal as a moment she has been dreaming of ever since she last stepped onto the pitch.
“It feels like the last game we played was ages ago" she said. "I think we were a little bit nervous in the changing rooms beforehand, but as soon as we stepped onto the pitch we were buzzing to be back.
“That goal just calmed the nerves I think and settled things down a little bit. We always look to start games on the front foot, and I think that showed it.
“I think for myself and the whole team, it showed over the full 90 minutes that we’ve put the hard work in during that lockdown period and I think we deserve this. Cardiff definitely posed a bit of a threat at times; Rose KIte had to make some cracking saves but we did what we could, stuck in and dug deep, and played our own game.”
Now United face the prospect of Billericay Town at Court Place Farm on Sunday in the third round, a match which Brown has been looking forward to.
“That was an extra incentive when we came into the game, so I’m buzzing for another week to look forward to.”
Sunday’s fixture will be played behind closed doors but details of a live stream for fans will be announced as soon as possible.