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Women's Football News
Oxford City won the Southern Region League Cup with a hard earned 1-0 victory over Southampton Women in the Final at Scours Lane.
April England held her nerve to score the winner from the penalty spot with three minutes remaining but City's heroine was goalkeeper Natalie Morris who made a string of great saves to keep the Division One title winners at bay.
Southampton settled the quicker of the two sides and created the game's first opportunity when Zoe Hughes-Jones' ball into the area picked out Sheree Bell-Jack who fired over the bar.
With the experienced Kirsty Bell pulling the strings in midfield, Southampton continued to have the better of things with Bell-Jack producing a shot on the turn which Morris held at the second attempt. The keeper was to do even better a minute later when an inch perfect through ball from Bell released Karleen Hellard on goal who struck a firm shot at goal but Morris did superbly to tip the ball onto the bar.
Abi Fletcher drilled a free kick over the bar and a scare for City when Morris was unable to hold onto a cross from Hellard was averted as Aliyah Anthony was well placed to clear from in front of goal.
Southampton continued to attack and look dangerous going forward but Oxford stood firm under the pressure with Steph Mobbs making a number of important interceptions, particularly against the dangerous Bell-Jack.
The pattern continued at the start of the second half and Southampton were to go close again. Fletcher drove a shot which brought out a great fingertip save from Morris who pulled off another great stop from a powerful left foot strike by Laura Gilbank after the resulting corner had been half cleared.
Oxford were then dealt a blow when an awkward landing forced Anthony off with a knee injury and she was replaced by Becci Bostock, who gave a fine display at the back after coming on.
Morris was called into action again as Fletcher made a strong run forward and slid a fine pass into the path of Jane Yeates who ran through on goal before being denied by a good smothering save.
Oxford attacks had been fairly sporadic but as the game went into the last half hour, they became more of a force. The tireless running and work rate of Nicole Miles helped spur them on and Jane Younger was becoming more of a threat down the left, the winger being inches off target with a shot and then a minute later, after being found in the area by Laura Allsop, Younger's shot was just wide after taking a deflection off Tash Angel.
Back came Southampton with Fletcher finding Yeates on the right, her low cross picked out Hellard who looked certain to score but Dara Austin's challenge was just enough to make her divert her shot wide. Yeates and Fletcher both sent shots off target but Southampton attacks were less frequent now.
Oxford began to press with Younger and Heather Young attacking down the flanks and this time it was Southampton's turn to stand firm under increasing pressure.
The game looked to be heading towards extra time but with three minutes left, a quickly taken corner by Allsop picked out Lindsay Pinker who was tripped just inside the area by Fletcher. A penalty was awarded and England stepped up to drill her shot down the centre of the goal past Rachael Cash to give her side the lead.
Southampton needed to throw players forward as the game went into injury time but they could not force an opportunity as the Oxford back four ensured that Morris was well protected. At the other end, Cash twice needed to race out of goal to clear under pressure from Younger and Miles but the spot kick proved to be just enough to earn Oxford their second trophy of the season.
Oxford City: Natalie Morris, Dara Austin, Marisa Chamberlain, Lindsay Pinker, Aliyah Anthony, Steph Mobbs, Heather Young, Laura Allsop, April England, Melissa Farrow, Jane Younger. Subs: Nicole Miles, Becci Bostock, Tina Higgs.
Southampton Women: Rachael Cash, Zoe Hughes-Jones, Shereen Cordy, Tash Angel, Kirsty Bell, Amie Barnett, Abi Fletcher, Karleen Hellard, Sheree Bell-Jack, Darcey Read, Laura Gilbank. Subs: Sam Vokes, Sophie Solloway, Jane Yeates, Marie Underwood-Clarke, Millie Peake.
(top) Marisa Chamberlain shields the ball from Darcey Read
(middle) Jane Younger takes on Kirsty Bell and Amie Barnett
(bottom) Oxford City with the League Cup
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