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Oxford Utd 1 (Nutman 37) Durham Women 0
Katherine Nutman scored the only goal of the game as Oxford picked up their second WSL 2 victory of the season from an entertaining affair at Abingdon.
The home side were worthy of their win over the ninety minutes but Durham can point to a second half penalty decision which should have gone their way.
Both teams have shown good improvement this season and the early play flowed from end to end but it was Durham who went close to opening the scoring. Julie Nelson pumped a long free kick into the area where it was met on the volley by Beth Hepple but her effort came back off the bar. Five minutes later, Amelia Pereira played a good reverse pass to let in Jemma Purfield who slid her shot wide of the far post with only Demi Lambourne.
Oxford came through the spell of pressure from Durham and, driven on by the impressive Kayleigh Hines in midfield, became more dangerous themselves as the half wore on. Hines drilled a shot over the bar from distance but just two minutes later, she played a big part in her side taking the lead.
Katie Stanley floated a corner into the area where Hines won the initial header and the ball rebounded into the path of Nutman who made no mistake from six yards.
The goal clearly boosted Oxford's confidence and their lively forward line was looking sharp, led by the pacey Lauren Allison who went close to creating another chance when her cross almost let in Holly Pickett, who looked certain to score but was denied as Helen Alderson made a fine smothering save at her feet.
Pickett was also showing some nice touches and drove a shot straight at Alderson after cutting in from the left, then Nutman fired over after being found by Stanley as Oxford finished the first half strongly.
The early stages of the second half were evenly contested and a lot tighter with fewer chances at either end. Hepple lifted a free kick over the bar for Durham who suffered the misfortune of substitute Emily Scott sustaining an ankle injury, which forced her off after just nine minutes to be replaced by Victoria Linsley, who was quickly into the action with a header from a Hepple corner which was well held above her head by Lambourne.
The moment of controversy arrived at the midway point of the second half. There seemed little danger to Durham as Purfield played a diagonal pass into the area which was chased down by Jen Jennings. Lambourne came off her line and barged over the Durham full back but appeals for a penalty were turned down as both referee and assistant chose to ignore it.
Linsley's arrival had given her side extra aerial power and she won another header from a corner which was initially fumbled by Lambourne who did well to recover and gather the ball under pressure from Purfield.
Durham continued to press for an equaliser but Oxford stood firm with Sahara Osborne-Ricketts and Rosie Lane continuing to look strong in the centre of defence. The U's held on and with Durham pushing players forward, began to hit on the counter attack.
Stanley went close with a left foot shot which was just off target after exchanging passes with Allison and as the game went into injury time, a good pass from Nutman released Stanley in the area but her low cross was just too firmly struck for Allison who could only divert her shot over the bar.
Oxford ran down the clock in the remaining minutes for a hard earned win which takes them level on points with Durham and into a mid-table position.
Oxford Utd: Demi Lambourne, Chloe Bruce, Isi Meade, Kayleigh Hines, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Rosie Lane, Katie Stanley, Katherine Nutman, Lauren Allison (sub Ella Franklin-Fraiture 90mins), Hanna Jaadla, Holly Pickett (sub Laura Low 87mins). Subs not used: Hannah Cox, Laura Nichol, Lindsay Pinker.
Durham Women: Helen Alderson, Jen Jennings, Jess Havelock, Lauren Jordinson, Sarah Wilson, Julie Nelson, Beth Hepple, Ellie Christon (sub Emily Scott 54mins (sub Victoria Linsley 63mins)), Jemma Purfield, Jordon Atkinson, Amelia Pereira (sub Becky Beech 72mins). Sub not used: Anna Moorhouse.
(top) Katherine Nutman scores the winning goal for Oxford
(middle) Helen Alderson makes an important save from Holly Pickett, with Jen Jennings watching on
(bottom) Becky Beech tries to escape the attentions of Hanna Jaadla and Sahara Osborne-Ricketts
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