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Bristol Academy 9 (Del Rio 8,11,45, Natalia 15,23, Watts 67,75,76, Rose 82)
Oxford Utd 2 (Stanley 17, Nutman 59)
Laura Del Rio and Nikki Watts each scored hat-tricks as Bristol Academy began their Continental Cup campaign with a resounding win at Stoke Gifford.
Oxford valiantly battled until the final whistle but Academy were far too strong and quick for their FA WSL 2 opponents as they ran up a record score for the competition.
Academy sought a fast start and after Natalia Pablos Sanchon curled a shot wide early on, they took the lead in the eighth minute after a corner was not cleared and Natalia's shot was parried by Hannah Cox as far as Del Rio who made no mistake from close range.
Oxford were having trouble dealing with a succession of corner kicks and just three minutes later, Del Rio curled a delightful shot into the far corner after a kick had been cleared back to her, then another kick was cleared as far as Natasha Harding who slid the ball wide to Corinne Yorston, the full back drilling a low cross which just evaded Sophie Ingle but Natalia was left with a simple tap in at the far post.
Oxford then came up with a spectacular reply of their own as Katie Stanley gave Mary Earps no chance with a superb 30-yard strike which crashed in off the underside of the bar.
However this proved to be only a temporary respite for the U's. Cox was forced to make a good diving save from Ingle's 20-yard volley and then Harding and Watts combined to set up Natalia for a clinical finish from just inside the area for the fourth goal.
Harding was in fantastic form, being a constant threat down either flank and the Welsh international went close with a shot which was deflected just wide. Academy continued to press with Angharad James shooting over but it wasn't until the stroke of half time that they found the net once again.
Moments after Kayleigh Hines had shot straight at Earps at the other end, Academy counter attacked with Harding breaking down the right and squaring the ball across goal for Del Rio to slot home her hat-trick goal.
Oxford came out determined at the start of the second half and look a lot tighter during the early stages while Academy struggled to find their first half fluency. However they had the first opportunity of the half when Watts chipped a pass over the Oxford defence for Harding who lifted the ball over Cox but wide of the post.
The visitors had introduced Katherine Nutman as a half time substitute and she was to reduce the arrears moments before the hour mark, although Earps will not look back on the goal with any delight. Nutman's shot from 25 yards was fumbled by the Academy goalkeeper who tried to claw the ball away but it had clearly crossed the line. The assistant referee somehow dithered in making a decision so the referee took matters into his own hands and ruled - rightly - that it was an Oxford goal.
Hines drove a shot over after seizing on a bad pass out of defence by Jemma Rose as Oxford had their best spell of the game, Stanley showing some nice touches while Lauren Allison and Holly Pickett worked hard down the flanks.
However the introduction of Ellie Curson gave Academy fresh impetus going forward and the young Welsh international was soon involved with a good run down the left before clipping the ball to the far post where Watts volleyed home from close range.
The Oxford team began to look tired and Academy sensed further goals. Once again Harding was the creator with a run down the left and cut back for Watts to slot home a left foot shot and barely a minute later, Watts had her first hat-trick for the club with a very similar goal, another close range finish coming from Curson's cross.
Rose then fired home a free kick from 25 yards but Oxford maintained some pride during the last few minutes to prevent any further damage.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Grace McCatty, Corinne Yorston, Jaz Matthews, Jemma Rose, Sophie Ingle, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Loren Dykes 70mins), Angharad James (sub Georgia Evans 45mins), Laura Del Rio (sub Ellie Curson 57mins), Nikki Watts, Natasha Harding. Subs not used: Frankie Brown, Vera Bernabe Payol.
Oxford Utd: Hannah Cox, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Rosie Lane, Kayleigh Hines, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Amy Chivers, Katie Stanley, Lauren Allison, Helen King (sub Ella Franklin-Fraiture 66mins), Natasha Caswell (sub Katherine Nutman 45mins), Holly Pickett (sub Katie Londer 74mins). Subs not used: Steph Mobbs, Lindsay Pinker, Laura Low, Demi Lambourne.
(top) Laura Del Rio is pursued by Katie Stanley and Sahara Osborne-Ricketts
(middle) Natasha Harding takes on Holly Pickett
(bottom) Katie Stanley tries to hold off a challenge from Jemma Rose
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