Both sides have had a solid start to the new season are comfortable in mid table and looking for 3 points to add to their league tally to carry into the break. Aston Villa Ladies have played 8 matches so far with an equal record of wins and defeats 4 each to give them 12 points, exactly the same points as they had after 8 matches played last season 3 more points today would leave them move clear of the teams in the middle of the table and well placed to challenge for the promotion places at the top of the table.
Oxford United Women have had a fantastic start to the league in their 2nd season playing in FAWSL 2 are in 7th place on 10 points just 2 points shy of their entire points tally from the previous season. Had a winning start to the season followed by 3 straight defeats since then though have had a 3 match unbeaten run that was only ended by a last minute penalty away to Everton Ladies as they lost 3-2, will be looking to end the 1st part of the season on a positive note.
Oxford United Women had brought almost a full strength squad to Coles Lane, whilst the home side had a few regular 1st team players missing. Captain Sherry McCue is away with the England U23s and central defender Jade Richards has left the club for the summer to play in America. Have a long injury list with strikers Kerri Welsh and Sarah Mayling ruled out for the season, with goalkeeper Caitlin Leach and defender Emily Owen also missing.
A 5pm KO it was bright and sunny at Coles Lane with a few dark clouds around as the two sides stepped out onto the pitch.
Aston Villa Ladies starting XI - Jess Myers, Hayley Crackle, Hannah George, Maisie Baker, Elisha N'Dow, Olivia Fergusson, Katie Moran (C), Alicia Robinson, Bethan Merrick, Amy West & Katie Wilkinson.
subs - Caitlin Leach, Maddy Cusack, Abigail Cottam, Laura Cooper & Chloe Harper.
Oxford United Women starting XI - Demi Lambourne, Isi Meade, Rosie Lane, Chloe Bruce, Sahara Osborne-Ricketts (C), Kayleigh Hines, Holly Pickett, Hanna Jaadla, Katie Stanley, Ella Franklin-Fraiture & Gemma Simmonds.
subs - Hannah Cox, Laura Nichol, Lindsay Pinker, Helen King & Georgia Timms.
Jess Myers was wearing the goalkeepers gloves for Aston Villa today, having only returned to full fitness herself recovering from a long term injury that has kept her side lined for over a year. In attack youngster Amy West was making only her 2nd start for the club supporting Katie Wilkinson in attack it was the home side in their claret and blue kit to kick off the match against Oxford lined up opposite in yellow shirts, navy shorts and socks.
It's Oxford who win the ball in midfield early on and send the ball out to the right for winger Katie Stanley getting it down she drives forwards before looking to cut back inside beating Aston Villa full back Hannah George she whips a cross into the box gets too much swerve on the ball which sees it fizz straight into Myers gloves in the centre of goal before any of her team mates bursting forwards into the box can latch onto it.
|Oxford United Women's Katie Stanley|
Not much happening early on as the ball is played out to the flanks both sides probing as they bring it on unable to find the cross into the box as defenders intercept the ball. Aston Villa win a free kick on half way the ball is lofted up into the area, Oxford goalkeeper Demi Lambourne comes to punch the ball doesn't get full contact with the ball it drops loose inside the area where after a scramble it is put behind for a corner kick, Lambourne comes and jumping amongst the crowd at the near post gets hold of the ball.
Oxford get Stanley on the ball down the right as they bring the ball out from the back with pace, she has runners Gemma Simmonds and Ella Franklin-Fraiture sprinting forwards as she plays the ball into the box, in the centre of her goal Myers isn't distracted keeps her eye on the ball bringing it into her chest.
GOAL! 14 minutes played Olivia Fergusson who is making some good runs on the right for Aston Villa wins her team a corner. The ball played in is a good one comes all the way across the six yard box towards Katie Wilkinson standing at the far post where is unchallenged as she meets the ball with her head sending the ball down and into the back of the net. 1-0.
|Aston Villa Ladies Maisie Baker|
Good foot work from Aston Villa's Alicia Robinson as the ball is put into her she gets it through to Amy West left of the goal she pulls her low effort wide of goal. Oxford's Hanna Jaadla wins the tackle in the middle of the park sees Stanley already off looking for the past to send her through on the right, is a race for the ball as she has George running with her the Aston Villa full back throwing herself down to win the ball on the edge of the area putting it out for a throw to deny Stanley a chance.
Aston Villa captain Katie Moran bursts forwards with the ball, driving at the Oxford defence looks to slide the ball to her right into the path of Fergusson as she enters the area, Lambourne is out quickly to close the threat down diving in to make the save before Fergusson can pounce. Lambourne is up quickly and sets up a rapid counter attack Kayleigh Hines flicking the ball on to send the ball into the run of Simmonds in attack is clear of the Aston Villa defence, Myers comes racing out towards her as the striker pulls the trigger looking to send the ball past the keeper, Myers makes a great save stopping the ball with her leg.
|Kayleigh Hines and Alicia Robinson|
Moran is looking to have another forward run at the Oxford defence as she is played in by Fergusson from the right, looks to pick out Wilkinson who has made a run to the near post, stooping to header the ball she sends the ball over the bar.
Half-time Aston Villa Ladies 1-0 Oxford United Women
Aston Villa have been the dominant side in the 1st half although chances haven't been plentiful they have enjoyed more of the ball particularly down the flanks. Game has been disrupted a little by a number of free kicks given away for petty fouls in the centre of midfield. Just the one goal scored though the 3 points are far from secured.
Oxford to kick off the 2nd half have made a change at the break with Helen King coming on for Simmonds in attack.
GOAL! The perfect start to the 2nd half for Aston Villa as they win a free kick on half way the ball is played in towards the area Baker has come up from the back rises to meet the ball 20 yards out with her back to goal turns her head nodding the ball down into the area left of the goal picking out Amy West who has peeled off into space, hits her shot early sending it low and fast across Lambourne and into the net to score her 1st senior goal for the club 2-0.
Stanley latches onto a poor kick out from Myers is a good way out on the right looks to put her shot in early but smashes the attempt wide. In attack for Oxford, King is fouled on the left just outside the area, the ball floated in across the six yard box is headed clear before Aston Villa counter attack get the ball down the pitch with Bethan Merrick the player furthest forwards getting on the ball has Oxford's Isi Meade to beat the defender blocks the cross putting it out for a corner.
|Aston Villa's Olivia Fergusson shielding the ball from Oxford's Isi Meade|
Franklin-Fraiture comes over the left to help out Pickett as she tries to make progress with the ball up the side of the pitch, getting the ball Franklin-Fraiture races beyond the Aston Villa players closing the ball down looking to travel with the ball she turns inside and fires the ball in from a tight angle towards goal, Myers is there in make the save, spills the initial save but is down and on the ball quickly before anyone in a yellow shirt can close it down.
Myers then does well from an Oxford corner fired in from the right an in swinging ball the keeper throws up a fist to punch the ball away from danger with Oxford captain Sahara Osborne-Ricketts racing in beyond her looking to head the ball home.
Changes for both sides with 20 minutes of the 2nd half played a double change for Oxford with Jaadla and Pickett coming off and Laura Nichol and Georgia Timms coming on. For Aston Villa Maddy Cusack comes on to replace Amy West. Oxford's Stanley fires an inviting ball across the face of the Aston Villa goal from a corner no one is able to meet it to deflect it into the back of the net.
GOAL! Out of nothing Oxford pull a goal back as the ball is headed on from the centre drops for Franklin-Fraiture outside area is in space Myers starts to come is off her line as Franklin-Fraiture gets her shot away sending it up over the keeper and into the back of the goal to make it 2-1.
Aston Villa have another free kick in the centre of the pitch out to the left the ball is lofted in towards the area is met by Merrick 20 yards out she shoots sending her first time effort wide of the Oxford goal. Oxford have a free kick of their own wide on the right soon after with Stanley over the ball looks to play it long into King inside the area, finds her inside the six yard box she is falling back as she meets the ball places her attempted shot straight against Myers.
|Aston Villa's Hayley Crackle with Oxford's Ella Franklin-Fraiture.|
Lambourne is called into action in the Oxford goal as Aston Villa's Merrick puts her foot through the ball from a central position 20 yards out, stings the keepers gloves as she makes the save the ball is loose but put behind for a corner. The corner s half cleared before Aston Villa send it back in with everyone racing out the ball is put into the back of the net but no goal as the offside flag is up.
GOAL! Oxford are pushing players forwards pulling one goal back they are looking for a 2nd to pull the scores level, the opportunity comes as George slides in attempting to win the ball off Nichol takes her out and getting a yellow card, the free kick is a dangerous position in front of the area central a good shooting position it's Kayleigh Hines over the ball she hits the ball sending a curling shot up and over the wall looping down towards the post Myers diving to her right can't get their as the ball drops down over the line to bring the equalising goal 2-2.
|Kayleigh Hines free kick to level the scores at 2-2|
Oxford have their tails up having fought back to get the scores level are taking the game to Aston Villa, good link up play between King and Franklin-Fraiture in attack for the visitors the Aston Villa defence stands firm before the ball is put back into Hines she blazes her shot over from distance.
Chances are few and far between in the closing minutes of the match Oxford are pressing forwards are almost caught on the break as Maddy Cusack looks to slip the ball through to Fergusson bearing down on goal but even as Lambourne dives to make the save at her feet the offside flag brings the stop in play.
The full time whistle blows and the match ends 2-2 the points shared keeping both sides in the same positions in the league that they were at the start of the day 5th and 7th respectively. Aston Villa were looking comfortable with a 2 goal lead will be disappointed they let their opponents back into the match.
The opposite for Oxford having gone 2-0 down will be pleased with the point having come back into the match looked the stronger at the end.
My final match before the mid-season break will be 6 weeks before I get to see another game won't know what to do with myself on a Sunday now still I probably need the rest... I know the car certainly does.