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London Bees 3 (Goddard 45, Cooper 89, Watts 90) Oxford Utd 1 (Umotong 81)
London Bees continued their fine run of form with two late goals to see off a spirited Oxford United team at The Hive.
Having dominated the opening half and taken the lead right on the break, Bees were pegged back after a strong second half showing from the visitors. Fresh from the fantastic Continental Tyres Cup shootout win over Chelsea, Bees kept pressing and were rewarded with goals on 89 and 92 minutes. Oxford had nearly equalised in between the second and third goals and played their full part in an enjoyable contest.
Playing with the strong breeze in their favour, Bees started well, Nikki Watts bringing a good save from Hannah Cox at her near post on six minutes. From the second corner in quick succession, the same player struck the outside of the post with an instinctive close range effort on 12 minutes. Cox was again in action from a Paula Howells corner, leaping to turn away Emma Beckett's powerful header on 22 minutes.
Oxford had made little progress in attack in the first half hour but on 32 minutes, leading scorer Ini Umotong had a sight of goal, her powerful effort being held by Imogen Riches. Another Howells delivery from a set piece nearly found Eva Popadinova on the far post on 37 minutes and it was a Howells cross which led to the opener right on the break, the ball breaking for Ashleigh Goddard to nod home from close range for a deserved lead.
Oxford returned with much more purpose after the break, winning more of the midfield battle and seeking to play in the opposition half. Lauren Allison was the first to threaten, firing just wide after a fine solo run. Jess Frampton went close from distance on 56 minutes, then Umotong played in Ella Franklin-Fraiture whose shot hit the side netting from a tight angle.
Watts was denied by a fine save by Cox, turning away a powerful free kick and the Oxford keeper also denied Popadinova and Wilson as Bees started to find their attacking rhythm again. However it was the visitors who equalised on 81 minutes, more good work by Allison setting up Umotong for her ninth goal of the season from close in.
Bees showed the same strength of purpose as against Chelsea after this setback and continued to press. A Watts free kick from wide right was half cleared to the edge of the area where Deanna Cooper struck a superb first time effort high into the net on 89 minutes to restore their advantage.
Oxford were far from finished as they earned an almost identical free kick situation to Bees' second on 91 minutes but their first time effort from close range flew just over Riches' bar. Jo Wilson then took advantage of a breakaway to coolly finish past Cox for Bees' third right on the whistle and Bees had completed another very satisfying afternoon which lifted them to fifth in the WSL 2 table.
London Bees: Imogen Riches, Manuela Naprta, Deanna Cooper, Emma Beckett, Sophie Fogarty, Rebecca Anderson, Ashleigh Goddard, Evdokia Popadinova (sub Merrick Will 85mins), Nikki Watts, Paula Howells, Jo Wilson. Subs not used: Sydney Hinchcliffe, Andria Georgiou, Dani Scanlon, Zemeka Clarke, Bethan Davies.
Oxford Utd: Hannah Cox, Laura Nichol, Laura Rafferty, Rosie Lane, Jess Frampton, Georgia Timms, Lauren Haynes, Lauren Allison, Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Holly Pickett, Ini Umotong. Subs not used: Sophie Barker, Paris Sercombe, Charlotte Deeley, Mollie Dyer, Steph Weston, Ellie Noble.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Holly Pickett is closed down by Ashleigh Goddard
(middle) Ini Umotong tries to take on Merrick Will
(bottom) Laura Rafferty clears under pressure from Jo Wilson
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