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Oxford Utd 0 Aston Villa 2 (Cusack 70, Baker 88)
Oxford United's maiden WSL 2 season ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa at Northcourt Road.
United made one change from the side which were narrowly beaten by eventual champions Sunderland last time out, with winger Laura Low dropping to the bench in place of Gemma Simmonds, who started the game up front with Lauren Allison and Katie Stanley out wide. It was a combination of those two wide players who almost gave the home side an early lead in the opening minute as Allison raced down the left wing before pulling the ball back across goal, but Stanley was unable to get the necessary touch to divert it goalwards.
The visitors soon hit back, with Katie Wilkinson curling a wind-assisted shot narrowly wide of Demi Lambourne's right post. United's Kayleigh Hines then had a glorious opportunity from a free kick right on the edge of the area after Helen King had been tripped, but her low drive was deflected away by the wall.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the greater amount of pressure towards the end of the half, with Lambourne being called upon to smother one promising attack following a scramble in the United penalty area.
After the break, Ella Franklin-Fraiture could have put United ahead, shooting narrowly wide from distance. But Villa's Emma Follis went even closer with one ambitious effort which sailed over the head of Lambourne before hanging in the air due to the gusty conditions and coming down onto the top of the bar.
The visitors finally broke the deadlock with 70 minutes played, Katie Wilkinson opening up the United defence with an excellent through ball for Maddy Cusack to poke home.
The anticipated fightback from the U's never really materialised as they had to play for a considerable period of time with just ten players, with Lauren Allison receiving lengthy treatment on the sidelines on what appeared to be an ankle injury.
Maisie Baker killed off any hopes of an equaliser two minutes from the end as the United defence were caught out at a free kick. A dangerous ball was floated across the face of goal before being headed into the path of the lurking Baker, who had plenty of time and space in front of goal to pick her spot. She duly converted, burying the ball in the bottom corner to seal United's fate.
Oxford United: Demi Lambourne, Laura Nichol, Jemma Connor-Iommi (sub Amy Chivers 45mins), Kayleigh Hines, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Kayleigh Nutman, Katie Stanley, Lauren Allison, Gemma Simmonds (sub Holly Pickett 71mins), Helen King, Ella Franklin-Fraiture (sub Laura Low 71mins). Subs not used: Jody Marshall, Rosanna Lane.
Aston Villa: Caitlin Leach, Hayley Crackle, Chloe Jones, Sherry McCue, Jade Richards, Maisie Baker, Emma Follis, Maddy Cusack, Katie Wilkinson, Sarah Mayling, Olivia Fergusson. Subs not used: Elisha N'Dow, Dani Petrovic, Carly Davies, Natalie Courtney, Lauren Walker.
(report by www.fawsl.com)
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