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Women's Football News
Oxford Utd 1 Everton 2
Everton got their FAWSL Spring Series campaign off to a winning start with an impressive performance against Oxford United.
In control for much of the match, Everton scored once in each half but failed to convert a number of good chances to extend their advantage and were given a scare when Ini Umotong converted the home side's first real chance of the game with a couple of minutes remaining.
Having gone close to promotion from WSL 2 last season, Everton fielded the majority of last year's team and soon started moving the ball fluently. Kelly Jones won possession high up the pitch to set up the opener with a cut back for Simone Magill to finish at the second attempt on 12 minutes. The hosts did exert a little pressure midway through the half, forcing a couple of corners, with Gabby George doing well to clear a dangerous ball from the second.
Danielle Turner had the best chance to extend the lead when a fine move involving Kelly Jones, Magill and Claudia Walker put her clear on the far post but the shot was wide on 40 minutes. Oxford keeper Demi Lambourne then made the first of several good saves to deny Magill and Everton went to the break leading by just one.
The impressive Walker set up the second just after the restart. Denied initially a point blank range by Lambourne, the ball broke kindly for Walker to square for Kelly Jones to fire high into the net on the far post. Hard as Oxford tried. they could not get any meaningful service to their attack and the hosts were at full stretch to contain the fluid movement of the Everton forwards for much of the second half.
Walker set up Emily Hollinshead with an inviting low cross but the shot flew high and wide on the hour. A series of substitutions allowed newcomers Amber Stobbs and Olivia Chance for Everton and Emily Donovan for Oxford to make their debuts whilst young players on both sides were given competitive minutes as the match reached the final quarter.
Michelle Hinnigan nearly added a third after rounding Lambourne but Rosie Lane recovered well to head the shot wide of goal. Two more brave smothering saves denied Magill and Walker when through on goal and sub Sophie Baker made a fine interception to keep another Everton attack at bay.
On 88 minutes, Umotong scored a super individual effort to give Oxford hope. Turning away from a challenge on halfway, the Nigerian international beat another defender, rounded keeper Kirstie Levell and shot home from a tight angle. However, with only a few minutes left, Oxford were unable to fashion another chance and it was Lambourne, with fine reaction save from a deflected shot, who kept the margin of defeat to one.
The FAWSL Spring Series will give clubs a number of chances to fine tune their tactics and incorporate new players, hopefully in less chilly conditions than those endured by players and spectators on the opening weekend.
Demi Lambourne, Charlie Deeley, Rosie Lane, Riva Casley, Jess Frampton, Holly Pickett, Ellie Noble, Lauren Haynes, Georgia Timms, Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Ini Umotong. Subs: Emily Donovan, Sophie Baker, Lucy Thomas.
Kirstie Levell, Vicky Jones, Georgia Brougham, Gabby George, Danielle Turner, Claudia Walker, Megan Finnigan, Michelle Hinnigan, Kelly Jones, Emily Hollinshead, Simone Magill. Subs: Amber Stobbs, Olivia Chance, Faye Bryson.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Riva Casley tries to prevent Simone Magill from getting in a shot
(middle) Ella Franklin-Fraiture battles with Michelle Hinnigan
(bottom) Ini Umotong shrugs off the attentions of Kelly Jones and Claudia Walker
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