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Abingdon Utd 1 Oxford City 3
Abingdon United finally made a competitive SSE FA Women's Cup debut after being awarded their Preliminary Round tie against Woodley United last week.
They exited the competition with a 3-1 home defeat to higher division opponents Oxford City but United's performance made City work very hard for their win.
In a match played in late summer heat, both teams showed good energy to last the full match at an intensely competitive pace, but Oxford had the edge in clinical finishing to overturn an early deficit.
Abingdon could scarcely have dreamed of a better start. Molly Lygo got clear on the left and drove a super dipping volley against the underside of the bar for Kiera Isaac to head home the rebound after 90 seconds.
Oxford went close to an immediate leveller but the hosts continued to impress, snapping into tackles and feeding balls to their speedy attack. Skipper Abbie Smith forced a good save from City keeper Nat Morris on 14 minutes.
It took a set piece of real quality from Lindsay Pinker to level the score on 22 minutes. A 30-yard free kick from wide right was delivered way beyond keeper Sophie Kirby and rebounded in off the far upright.
City then fashioned another impressive goal four minutes later to take the lead. This time it was perfect one-two between Nicole Miles and Leah McConnell which allowed the latter to shoot home from just inside the area.
Abingdon continued to press and had Oxford defending for much of the rest of the half. Morris saved well from Sarah Harrison but later suffered a nasty injury when punching clear from a corner. After lengthy treatment, the keeper was able to continue and it was in time added for this injury that Oxford extended their lead, Edie Stilwell-Garrett breaking clear on the left to drive hard and low past Kirby.
Abingdon had two moments early in the second half to reduce the deficit. Lygo outpaced the defence but dragged her shot wide of the far post on 48 minutes then Heather Young controlled a clearance from Morris 35 yards out wide right and sent in a lobbed shot back over the retreating keeper which bounced to safety off the upright.
Oxford had a dominant spell as they sought to gain a decisive lead just after the hour. Lauren May drove a 30-yard effort inches over and then Kirby saved well from McConnell. Later the Abingdon keeper tipped over a powerful drive from sub Emily Green.
Abingdon continued to create good situations through effective use of the wings , Morris saving well from Isaac and racing off her line to deny sub Beth Hawtin late on but City were able to see out the game with their two-goal lead intact and complete a hard fought victory.
With good support for both teams in this local derby, both clubs look set fair for successful seasons in their respective Southern Region Leagues, Oxford City on the back of four Premier runners-up campaigns and Abingdon United newly promoted to Division One.
Sophie Kirby, Touria Koudoua, Marisa Chamberlain, Amy Chivers, Charlotte Deeley, Steph Carrick, Heather Young, Sarah Harrison, Kiera Isaac, Abbie Smith, Molly Lygo. Subs: Sophie Grimson, Beth Dunbabin, Beth Hawtin, Katie Totton, Emily Murphy.
Nat Morris, Cristina Higgs, Rachael Mariam, Chloe Duckett, Maisie Hastings, Lindsay Pinker, Nicole Miles, Leah McDonnell, Tiana Russell-Cartwright, Edie Stilwell-Garrett, Lauren May. Subs: Danielle Anderson, Emily Green, April England, Isabel Hughes.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Nicole Miles closed down by Abbie Smith
(middle) Leah McConnell under pressure from Charlotte Deeley
(bottom) Kiera Isaac and Abbie Smith challenge Lindsay Pinker
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