Ladies Report: Oxford United 1-2 Watford
By Chris Smith
A fantastic second half performance saw Watford FC Ladies come from a goal down to win 2-1 at Oxford United Women on Saturday.
Oxford had much the better of the opening stages and eventually took the lead in the 19th minute through Georgia Timms.
The Golden Girls got more and more into it as the game went on and equalised early in the second half through Katie O’Leary.
Then with just over three minutes of the 90 remaining, Helen Ward netted what proved to be the winning goal to give Watford their third win out of four this season.
It was a much-changed side to the youthful outfit that won at Poole Town in the cup the previous weekend, with only Weronika Baranowska, Samantha Hallsworth, Linda Afuakwah and O’Leary keeping their places. Compared to the previous league game though there were only two changes, with Baranowska and Afuakwah the two not involved in that fixture.
The hosts rocketed out of the blocks and had numerous chances at the beginning of the game, with Watford thankful to Baranowska for the scores remaining even. During the opening 10, there was a big personal battle between the Hornets’ keeper and Oxford’s Laura Hennessey. The Watford goalie came out on top making three saves, with two of them of the difficult variety.
Leanne Bell had the first chance for Armand Kavaja’s side but her shot was gathered by Lucy Thomas in the home side’s goal.
With the game approaching the 20th minute, Oxford took the lead. Ellie Noble’s pass played in Timms and there was nothing Baranowska could do this time to prevent her side going behind.
Watford looked to respond immediately and had a few opportunities within a short time span. Ward and Bell had shots that went wide while O’Leary’s effort was held by Thomas.
Oxford keeper Thomas had to be at her best to keep her team in front as half-time approached, superbly denying Ward with an outstretched foot.
Carid was introduced after the break and the substitution nearly paid dividends as she narrowly missed getting on the end of a teasing cross into the box. It was the same down the other end shortly after as Emily Allen’s ball in was just beyond the reach of Timms.
With 55 minutes on the clock, the equaliser arrived. It was O’Leary’s first for the club as she powered an effort past Thomas to make it 1-1.
The Golden Girls then had another period where they had three efforts within a few minutes. Bell and Carid had strikes stopped by Thomas while O’Leary shot wide looking for her second.
As the game entered the final 20, there were still plenty of little openings for both sides. Carid volleyed a difficult chance wide, while Timms shot straight at Baranowska. Timms then came even closer to getting her and her side’s second but fortunately for Watford her shot from a tight angle came back off the post.
Ward was on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win at this very venue last campaign and history repeated itself. Bell drove forward and played in the Watford captain, who kept her cool and slotted the ball past Thomas.
After keeping her team in the game early on, Baranowska again had to be at her best, this time to preserve the lead. Just a minute after Oxford had fallen behind, Lauren Allison had a chance to equalise immediately but her near-post effort was denied by the keeper.
As the match entered stoppage time, the Golden Girls managed the game well and held on to secure the comeback victory and all three points.
Watford have the chance to make it four wins from five and three from four in the league on Wednesday, as Kavaja’s side host QPR at Kings Langley FC, kick-off at 7.45pm.
GOLDEN GIRLS | Baranowska (GK), Peck, Hallsworth, O’Halloran, Huggins (Hill, 59), Scanlon, Stojko-Down, Bell, O’Leary (Baker, 79), Afuakwah (Carid, 46), Ward.
Subs not used | Bolland, Akerman.
Goals | O’Leary (55), Ward (87).
OXFORD UNITED | Thomas (GK), Roberts, Mobbs, Haynes, Bent, Allen, Noble, Fyfe, Hennessey (Allison 63), Timms, Baker.
Subs not used | Cox, Walklett, Stroem, Colley.
Goals | Timms (19).