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Oxford Utd 0 Yeovil Town 2 (Bleazard 37, Bray 50)
Yeovil Town gave themselves a chance of qualifying for the semi final stage of the Continental Cup with a 2-0 away victory over Oxford United.
They will have to beat Notts County next Saturday and hope other results go their way in order to bring this about but a thoroughly entertaining encounter at Abingdon United saw goals from Helen Bleazard and Laura Bray take the Glovers past a spirited U's, who had prolonged spells of pressure, particularly in the second half. The match was also notable for the feat of two first half penalty saves from Oxford keeper Demi Lambourne which kept the hosts in the game.
Yeovil came quickly out of the blocks and earned a penalty from a Katherine Nutman foul but Jemma Tewkesbury saw her spot kick was well held by Lambourne low to her left on four minutes. Bray and Katie Cook had efforts well saved as the visitors dominated the early stages. Amy Chivers set up Oxford's first chance with a good pass but Katie Stanley's effort was well held by Beth Howard, back in the Yeovil goal. Oxford were nearly ahead when a defensive slip let in Lauren Allison whose shot fizzed just over the bar on 26 minutes.
Natalie Haigh was very strong in moving forward with the ball from central defence, several times creating promising attacking situations in the Oxford half. However the home team were equally threatening with a Helen King cross being guided just wide by Allison on 34 minutes.
Bleazard was very lively in her attacking role down the right wing, but it was a left side corner from which she opened the score on 38 minutes. A wickedly inswinging delivery evaded everyone and dropped just inside the far post.
Yeovil were given the ideal chance to double the lead two minutes later when Bleazard was brought down running onto a Cook pass but Bray's spot kick was met with a fine Lambourne save, diving far to her left to get a hand to a firmly struck kick. Bray nearly made amends with a driving run into the box just before the break but her cross shot was inches wide of the post.
It took less than five minutes for the prolific Glovers forward to find the net after the break. A lovely build up released Paige Stewart who hung an inviting cross to the far post where Bray guided a header past Lambourne and a covering defender.
For a few minutes Yeovil dominated and looked to put the match beyond Oxford's reach with a third, Bleazard firing just over and Cook nearly turning in a Stacey Pearson cross from the left. Jade Lorton-Radburn had another effort well held but soon Oxford were right back in the match.
Yeovil had an amazing triple let off in as many seconds just after the hour. In scenes reminiscent of the Holland-Costa Rica World Cup match the night before, Howard made a superb save to deny Stanley from close range low to her left, Allison blasted the rebound against the bar from close range and a last ditch tackle foiled a third attempt. From the resulting corner, Allison went close with a near post flicked header.
Undeterred by their misfortune Oxford, energised by lively substitutes, poured forward and really examined the Yeovil defence. Howard saved well from Allison and Ella Franklin-Fraiture fired just over from distance.
Of course, Oxford were vulnerable to neatly constructed counter attacks and Lambourne denied Cook with a fine save on 71 minutes, rushing out to block as the Yeovil striker shot. Stanley provided more danger to the Yeovil goal with a run and cross as the match flowed from end to end, then Allison got in behind the defence to fire across goal. King shot into the side netting and Howard held a low Allison shot as the home side fought with admirable spirit and skill to get back into the game.
Time ran out for the home team and Yeovil calmly and efficiently saw out the remaining minutes, forcing Lambourne into a couple more smart saves late on.
All in all, the match was a credit to both clubs, intent on attack through well constructed passing moves. Yeovil just had the edge and scored at opportune moments, but they were pushed hard for long periods with lots of good individual performances on both sides.
Oxford United: Demi Lambourne, Rosie Lane, Katherine Nutman, Amy Chivers, Jenna Connor-Iommi, Helen King, Kayleigh Hines (sub Lindsay Pinker 74mins), Katie Stanley, Lauren Allison, Laura Low (sub Ella Franklin-Fraiture 61mins), Louise Fellows (sub Laura Nichol 76mins).
Yeovil Town: Beth Howard, Helen Bleazard, Rachael Edwards, Natalie Haigh, Jade Kirby, Paige Stewart (sub Polly Wardle 90mins), Stacey Pearson, Jade Lorton-Radburn, Laura Bray (sub Shauna Cossens 88mins), Katie Cook, Jemma Tewkesbury (sub Kirsty Whitton 71mins).
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photo by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Laura Bray's first half penalty is saved by Demi Lambourne
(middle) Katie Cook and Katherine Nutman battling for the ball
(bottom) Laura Bray heads in Yeovil's second goal
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