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Oxford Utd 2 (Umotong 2,25) Yeovil Town 2 (Short 26, Curson 57)
WSL 2 leaders Yeovil Town battled back from two goals behind to earn themselves a point against Oxford Utd in a pulsating match at Abingdon.
The game started with the prospect of a five point lead for Yeovil with a victory but they found themselves on the back foot with only two minutes on the clock. Ella Franklin-Fraiture chipped a pass over the Yeovil defence and Ini Umotong ran through on goal, sliding the ball past Charlotte Haynes to give her side an early lead.
Umotong could have had a second just three minutes later as she powered through once again but this time she failed to hit the target. Yeovil hit back to force their first opportunity, a corner which was headed goalwards by Atlanta Primus but Laura Nichol was well placed to clear off the line.
Sarah Wiltshire drew a save from Hannah Cox at full stretch and Primus worked an opening for herself before shooting wide, but Oxford were also looking strong going forward with Umotong a constant threat. The striker then scored a second when she shrugged off two defenders before racing through and clipping the ball past the oncoming Haynes.
Yeovil needed a quick response and it came just over a minute later. Helen Bleazard's corner from the left was glanced on by Wiltshire and although Cox managed to claw the ball away, Hannah Short did well to steer her header back past the keeper to reduce the arrears.
Oxford were still looking the more threatening going forward though and a Holly Pickett corned picked out Umotong whose header was narrowly over. Pickett was having a fine game on the left and she was next to go close when played in by Lauren Haynes, cutting across two defenders before unleashing a shot which looked destined for the back of the net but Haynes pulled off a great save, tipping the ball over the bar. Haynes again excelled with another good stop by Georgia Timms after she had exchanged passes with the classy Franklin-Fraiture.
Ellis Hillman got the ball in the net at the other end when she sidefooted home a Wiltshire cross but her celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. Wiltshire headed wide from a deep cross by Bleazard on the stroke of half time but Oxford were worthy of their lead at the interval, Pickett going close again with a free kick which looked goalbound but was headed away by Lauren Townsend.
Yeovil stepped up the pace after the restart as she sought the goal to bring them back on level terms. Primus was to go close when finding space on the edge of the area and her shot dipped inches over the bar.
The pressure was to tell though and it was captain Ellie Curson who was to equalise with a cross-shot from 20 yards which sailed over Cox and into the far corner of the net.
Yeovil's tails were up and they attacked vigorously to try and take the lead for the first time. However, with Rosie Lane in outstanding form in the centre of defence, Oxford withstood the increasing pressure from the leaders.
The home side still looked sharp on the break and Pickett drew a save from Haynes following good work from Umotong. Yeovil were doing the majority of the pressing though and a far post strike from a corner by Short was charged down by the excellent Lane.
Cox pulled off a good save to deny Kelly Aldridge a debut goal after she had been played in by Natasha Knapman. Yeovil were to go even closer three minutes later when a shot from Bleazard struck the inside of the post and Cox did superbly to scramble back across goal and keep out the rebound from Emily Donovan.
Oxford were relying on counter attacks but Umotong remained a big threat and had opportunities for her hat-trick goal, including seizing on a loose back pass from Nicola Cousins but she elected to pass instead of shooting. A Lauren Haynes free kick resulted in Laura Rafferty heading home but Umotong, who had headed the ball back to her, had been ruled offside.
As the game went into injury time, Haynes bravely came off her line to gather under pressure from Umotong, resulting in a sickening but accidental collision which left the striker needing treatment and the unfortunate Haynes leaving the field on a stretcher.
Having used all three substitutes, Bleazard took over between the posts but Yeovil closed ranks in front of her and ensured that she was well protected and not called into action.
Neither team deserved to lose a game in which they both contributed heavily and whilst Oxford remain in the bottom three in the table, Yeovil continue to sit on top, leading a division which is becoming more closely contested by the week.
Oxford Utd: Hannah Cox, Madison Lee (sub Georgia Timms 11mins), Jess Frampton, Lauren Haynes, Laura Rafferty, Rosie Lane, Ini Umotong, Laura Nichol, Lauren Allison (sub Ellie Noble 70mins), Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Holly Pickett (sub Charlie Deeney 88mins). Subs not used: Sophie Baker, Mollie Dyer, Demi Lambourne.
Yeovil Town: Charlotte Haynes, Helen Bleazard, Lauren Townsend, Ellie Curson, Nicola Cousins, Hannah Short, Sarah Wiltshire, Steph Williams (sub Natasha Knapman 70mins), Atlanta Primus, Ellis Hillman (sub Kelly Aldridge 53mins), Nadia Lawrence (sub Emily Donovan 80mins). Subs not used: Ann Marie Heatherson, Charlotte Johnson, Kelly Snook.
(top) A crunching tackle between Jess Frampton and Ellie Curson
(middle) Atlanta Primus tries to take on Laura Rafferty
(bottom) Lauren Allison shields the ball from Nicola Cousins
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