Oxford United Women beat Chatham Town Women 4-0 at Court Place Farm this afternoon to secure their first three points of the season.
A fantastic first half performance put the U's 4-0 up at the break thanks to goals from Zoe Barratt, Leah Burridge, Izzy Cook and Sarah King.
The U’s had to start fast; Chatham picked up their first point of the campaign on Wednesday night and were hungry, like the U's, for their first win of the season.
Start fast they did, and some. Barratt, back to starting in the nine again, has already scored some worldies for the U’s, and this one was the pick of the bunch. She picked the ball up on the edge of the box and unleashed a rocket into the roof of the net to open the scoring in the 6th minute.
It feels like all that’s been missing is a bit of confidence, and Burridge’s goal minutes later gave the U’s all the self-belief they needed. Sarah King’s cross was spilt by Cara Davies and the skipper was on the spot to tap home her first of the season.
Cook then scored an excellent strike of her own, driving to the edge of the box and drilling a low effort into the bottom left corner in the 27th minute.
It got even better five minutes before half time; Barratt drove at the heart of the Chatham defence and her deflected effort fell at the feet of King to tap home United’s fourth and opened her account for the campaign.
Cook was denied by a fantastic piece of goalkeeping by Davies, Burridge flicked a header inches wide and by half time Jesus Cordon in the Chatham dugout needed a miracle to find a way to get back in the game.
Lily Stevens was superb in midfield, doing the simple things excellently, cleaning up the ball and setting the U’s off on attacks all afternoon.
Chatham did provide threat, with familiar face Tash Stephens who scored plenty of important goals towards the end of last season for the U’s, running at Jaime Gotch and Cecily Wellesley-Smith whenever she got the chance.
The Yellows defended well though and left 16-year-old keeper Caitlin Crierie with very little to do between the sticks.
Cook is a very exciting talent and had an excellent game demonstrating plenty of pace and skill on the wing. In the 72nd minute she was replaced by Anais Trinci to make her Oxford United debut having had international clearance passed in the week.
It was a quieter second half, but it looked like the U’s were destine for a fifth when Davies’s loose touch was pounced on by Barratt and the former tripped the latter to give the ref no other option than to point to the spot.
Davies kept her cool though, diving to her left and holding on to Barratt’s admittedly tame effort.
Katie Sherwood, Taome Oliver, Ellie Butler and Amy Woodhead replaced Hayley Hoare, King, Barratt and Burridge as the game fizzled out, but the U’s will be massively pleased with their first win and clean sheet of the league campaign.
They now look ahead to a week's time when they welcome Plymouth Argyle Women at home on Sunday 17th September.
LINEUP: Crierie, Provan, Gotch, Wellesley-Smith, Hoare (Sherwood 80’), Burridge (Woodhead 90+2), Stevens, Wiseman, King (Oliver 86'), Barratt (Butler 89'), Cook (Trinci 72’)
Report by Billy Lawrence, photos by Darrell Fisher