Oxford United Women made it back to back victories with a 5-1 away win at London Bees under the lights at the Hive this evening.
Amy Goddard, Tash Stephens and Carly Johns all struck in the first half to put the U's in the driving seat at the break, before Stephens doubled her tally straight from the restart. Goddard then scored her second on the hour mark, before Juliet Adebowale scored a late consolation goal for the home side.
As the tube rattled past the North stand at the Hive, it was London Bees gameplan that was derailed early on.
Goddard, making her first start in Yellow, had two headed chances within minutes. The first, she powered just wide, but made no mistake the second time round, nodding home Naomi Cole’s floated free kick into the bottom left corner in the seventh minute.
It looked like United would score more from the early stages, but Bees did well to make it difficult for the visiting Yellows, until just before the half hour mark the U’s stung again.
Daisy McLachlan was superb all evening, and when she drove down the left and picked a perfect pass into winger Stephens (another making her first start), she buried United’s second in the 29th minute. The winger took one touch and tucked it under Mia North in the Bees’ net to double the advantage.
United began to swarm and found their third just before half time. The referee blew for a handball in the home side’s box and Johns stood up, sent North the wrong direction, and rolled the ball into the net to put United well in control at the break.
The U's were in full flow, and went into an extra gear straight from the restart. Stephens was played through over the top from the kick off and finished excellently, high into the net for her second and United's fourth.
Fifteen minutes later and it was five in almost identical fashion to the opener; Johns was fouled, Cole delivered and Goddard headed in off the post.
Iesha Swaby replaced Johns in the 74th minute, before Lauren Haynes, Lacy Liggett and Jaime Gotch came on for Cole, Taome Oliver and Lily Stevens two minutes later, a further demonstration of United's strength in depth.
Stephens came so close to her hat-trick, latching on to the end of a Provan cross but just missing the top right corner.
Provan's curling free kick was tipped over by North, but the U's couldn't find the back of the net for a sixth time and were the next to concede when Juliet Adebowale struck from long range to deny United a clean sheet in the 89th minute.
Two braces from two first starters, a Captain returning to the pitch after injury and United back to their old domineering selves - third place Watford beating League leaders Portsmouth only adding to the U's excellent night.
The U's now have a weekend without a game, then head to Crawley Wasps the following Sunday.
UNITED: Kite, Stevens (Gotch 76), Goddard, Casley, Provan, Cole (Haynes 76), Oliver (Liggett 76), Legg, McLachlan, Johns (Swaby 74), Stephens
Report by BIlly Lawrence, pictures Darrell Fisher