Oxford United Women earned an impressive 1-0 victory over Women’s Championship side Charlton Athletic today thanks to Sarah King’s first goal for the club within 10 minutes of kick-off.
United wasted no time in establishing themselves with an early attack through new signing Beth Lumsden, the U’s midfielder forcing a save before King followed up within the six yard box to fire Oxford into the lead on seven minutes.
Charlton looked to gain a foothold in the game and a sustained period of possession within United’s half put Oxford’s defence to the test. Goalkeeper Paris Sercombe did well to make a succession of smart saves to keep the Championship side at bay, most notably parrying a powerful volleyed effort from a floated cross on the half-hour mark.
With both sides locked in a tight battle for possession, Liam Gilbert opted to rotate the side in the second half, making several substitutions in a bid to keep the opposition guessing and to ensure minutes in the legs of the whole squad.
The second half was a cagey affair, but the visitors came incredibly close to drawing the scores level on 70 minutes when a dangerous delivery from a corner resulted in a goal-line scramble. It was Kite’s quick reflexes which got United out of trouble, getting a hand to a close-range shot and clearing the danger.
Sercombe was required to re-enter the field on 80 minutes when Kite went down injured from a challenge and was unable to continue, and United’s shot-stopper had to be alert when Charlton ramped up the pressure late on.
Karen Hills’ side missed a golden opportunity to level the scores with minutes to spare when a cross from the left flank fell at the far post but was lashed wide at close range.
Kayleigh Hines connected well with a corner when there was seconds to spare at the end of the contest, but the dangerous delivery was steered wide.
Liam Gilbert’s side showed great resilience to earn an impressive victory over their Championship opposition after evading late pressure from the visitors, while taking in another 90 minutes of football to prepare well for the league campaign’s start in two weeks' time.
UNITED: Sercombe, Baker, Mackenzie, Casley, Haynes, Stevens, Lumsden,King, Johns, McLachlan
SUBS (all used): Kite, Beaver, Childerhouse, Grove, Wallace, Hines, Williams
Report by Jacob Gill, pictures by Darrell Fisher