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Oxford Utd 3 Aston Villa 1
Oxford United broke a losing streak stretching over six matches in all competitions with a fine 3-1 victory over Aston Villa at Oxford City FC.
Trailing for most of the first half to an early strike from Ebony Salmon, the U's turned the match around with three goals in 12 minutes either side of the break and emerged worthy winners after an entertaining, well contested match in which a young Villa team played a full part.
Villa started brightly, finding space and time early on to trouble the Oxford defence. Salmon, who was outstanding throughout the match with her pace and ability to take on defenders, found herself free on the left side of the area to finish confidently past Demi Lambourne for the opener on five minutes, then was inches from doubling the lead on 14 minutes, cutting in from the right and curling wide of the far post.
Oxford started to play their way into the match with Emily Allen going close from a Danielle Carlton free kick but were grateful for a fine Lambourne save at full stretch to her right as Salmon once again outpaced the defence and fired in a shot on 20 minutes.
The hosts started to exert pressure as the match reached the half hour. Carlton's set piece delivery often caused difficulty for the Villa defence and it was no real surprise that the equaliser came from this source. A testing free kick from the right side was not cleared and Taome Oliver found the right touch to send the ball beyond Sian Rogers on 37 minutes.
Two goals just after the restart put the hosts in a position they could scarcely have imagined after the first half hour. Kayleigh Hines netted with a precise free kick from 25 yards which Rogers reached but could not keep out, then Carlton took advantage of defensive hesitancy to stab home from close range on 50 minutes.
Oxford started to move the ball around with real fluency and created more dangerous situations with Ella Franklin-Fraiture raiding effectively down the right, Ellie Noble, Emily Allen and Steph Williams combining well as confidence grew.
At the back, Oxford managed to contain the Villa attack much of the time but Salmon was still a threat, firing just wide then breaking clear on 65 minutes and drawing a superb save from Lambourne low to her left, a crucial moment in the match.
As it was. Oxford nearly added a fourth through substitute Emily Donovan late on and saw the match out comfortably for a welcome three points ahead of the SSE Women's FA Cup encounter with Cardiff City whilst Aston Villa face a home tie with FAWPL Northern Division leaders Middlesbrough.
Demi Lambourne, Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Hannah Short, Lauren Haynes, Ellis Hillman, Steph Williams, Kayleigh Hines, Ellie Noble, Danielle Carlton, Emily Allen, Taome Oliver. Subs: Emily Donovan, Flo Fyfe, Sophie Baker, Lucy Clarke, Corinne Yorston, Riva Casley, Holly Pickett.
Sian Rogers, Hayley Crackle, Elisha N'Dow, Amy Goddard, Chloe Jones, Alice Hassell, Aoife Hurley, Ellen Martin, Beth Merrick, Jodie Hutton, Ebony Salmon. Subs: Jade Richards, Ashlee Brown, Elizabeta Ejupi, Amy West, Sian Johnson, Natasha Baptiste.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Alice Hassell slides in to tackle Danielle Carlton
(middle) Ebony Salmon gets in a shot past Hannah Short
(bottom) Chloe Jones in a chase for the ball with Ella Franklin-Fraiture
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