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Oxford Utd 0 London Bees 3 (Loomes 27, Gaylor 73, Brooks 88)
Oxford United fell to a home defeat in the historic first ever WSL2 match as London Bees took advantage of defensive frailties to record a 3-0 win at Abingdon United FC.
United created a number of chances but it was Bees' Lucy Loomes, Amber Gaylor and Billie Brooks who struck for the visitors in front of a crowd of 361.
U's started brightly and Katie Stanley went close to giving them an early lead after latching onto a through ball from Lauren Allison and getting beyond the defence, but her shot was saved by goalkeeper Sophie Harris.
The visitors looked very lively in attack early on, Paige Wakefield heading one early chance over the bar while Lindsay Pinker did very well to block a fierce effort from Billie Brooks after a corner was half cleared.
Oxford's Lauren Allison beat her marker with a turn of pace but Harris was out quickly to block. The ball broke to Helen King whose powerful shot found the side netting on 19 minutes.
Bees who made the breakthrough rather against the run of play just before the half hour mark, Lucy Loomes' fierce low drive from fifteen yards beating goalkeeper Demi Lambourne.
Oxford responded with their best spell of the match, Helen King almost catching out Harris with a clever flick on and appearing to be held back by the Bees' keeper. Katie Stanley broke free on the right hand side and crossed for Holly Pickett, who fired over from close range on 34 minutes.
Lauren Allison beat a challenge to get a shot away but her effort was cleared off the line by Samantha Chappell as the Bees clung to their advantage at the interval.
After the break, Oxford continued to press and went close through Allison and Rosie Lane at the back post from a corner. However, a mistake by skipper Jemma Connor-Iommi left Gaylor clear and her fierce shot took a nasty bounce over Lambourne's dive on 73 minutes.
Substitute Laura Low went very close to reducing the arrears, shooting inches wide, but Oxford's disappointment was compounded late on when a lofted 40-yard free kick from Brooks beat Lambourne for the third late on.
Bees worked very hard for their win but the margin was harsh on the hosts who showed plenty of attacking flair in an entertaining start to the WSL 2 season.
Oxford United: Demi Lambourne, Steph Mobbs, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Rosanna Lane, Amy Chivers, Katie Stanley, Kayleigh Hines, Lindsay Pinker, Holly Pickett (sub Laura Low 68mins), Helen King, Lauren Allison. Subs not used: Hannah Cox, Katherine Nutman, Ellen Oliver, Ella Franklin-Fraiture.
London Bees: Sophie Harris, Samantha Chappell, Charlotte Herson, Billie Brooks, Vanna Lee, Sydney Hinchcliffe, Aoife Hurley, Paige Wakefield (sub Chontele Lawrence 86mins), Anneka Nuttall, Amber Gaylor, Lucy Loomes (sub Megan Goss 68mins). Subs not used: Cherie Rowlands, Andria Georgiou, Katherine Huggins.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Holly Pickett controls under pressure from Samantha Chappell
(middle) Steph Mobbs takes on Amber Gaylor
(bottom) Rosie Lane tries to get in a shot with Samantha Chappell and Bees keeper Sophie Harris watching on
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