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Oxford Utd 2 (King 43,58) Sunderland 3 (Williams 7, Ramshaw 14,62)
A valiant Oxford were narrowly beaten 3-2 at home to league leaders Sunderland who kept their WSL 2 title challenge on course.
After finding themselves 2-0 down to Sophie Williams and Keira Ramshaw goals after just 14 minutes, United appeared to be in trouble. But they responded excellently with two goals of their own thanks to Helen King's double. However, Ramshaw struck her second soon after to give the visitors all three points.
United started brightly on the front foot, forcing two quick corners in the opening minutes as they looked to establish an immediate foothold. But it was the visitors who would edge in front with just seven minutes played as Sophie Williams evaded the challenge of Laura Nichol before firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
They doubled the lead soon after when Beth Mead broke on the left hand side before squaring for Keira Ramshaw to tap in. What followed was a spell of Sunderland pressure as they effectively boxed United into their own half.
Rachel Furness could have made it three shortly before the break, getting a powerful head on a swerving corner but goalkeeper Demi Lambourne did well to get down and hold her attempt. Just moments later, the U's pulled one back as the Sunderland defence failed to deal with a lofted free kick into the box, allowing Helen King to poke home.
King was again the hero after the break as she headed United back onto even terms, rising above the crowd to head in Jemma Connor-Iommi's dangerous free kick.
But the sides were level for just four minutes. Moments after Laura Low could have headed United in front for the first time, the visitors went straight up the other end and re-established their lead.
Mead picked out Ramshaw in space in front of goal and the Sunderland striker needed no second invitation to strike home.
United pushed on in search of an equaliser late on, but despite their best efforts they were unable to find a way past a solid Sunderland defence.
Oxford Utd: Demi Lambourne, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Laura Nichol, Kayleigh Hines, Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts, Katherine Nutman, Katie Stanley, Lauren Allison, Laura Low (sub Gemma Simmonds 72mins), Helen King, Ella Franklin-Fraiture.
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Vicki Greenwell, Rachel Furness (sub Emma Kelly 64mins), Steph Bannon, Hayley Sharp, Keira Ramshaw (sub Natalie Gutteridge 79mins), Kelly McDougall, Beth Mead, Abbey Joice, Sophie Williams (sub Rebekah Bass 83mins).
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by Susan Gutteridge:
(top) Beth Mead battles with Katherine Nutman
(middle) Keira Ramshaw scores the first goal of her double
(bottom) Vicki Greenwell takes a free kick
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