COVENTRY UNITED LADIES 2 – 0 OXFORD UNITED WOMEN
The Magic of the FA Cup doesn’t just apply to the Men’s game, as this weekend saw the Third Round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup taking place and Coventry United Ladies of the FA Women’s Premier League caused a big upset at Park Meadow in Coleshill with a 2-0 win over WSL (Women’s Super League) 2 side Oxford United Ladies to book their place in the Fourth Round of the Cup.
From the kickoff the home side set out their stall early and put Oxford under a great deal of pressure and that good build up saw the hosts taking the lead with five minutes gone in the cup-tie, when a Helen Dermody corner was headed home by Alison Hall to see United leading 1-0.
In fairness it was no more than the hosts deserved for their good play and had their opponents on the back foot throughout in the game. Coventry did have some advantage going their way heading into the match, as this was Oxford’s first game of the year with all WSL sides not playing in the winter currently and Coventry was in the middle of their season so far.
Coventry were using their play to good effect and was causing problems down the flanks for Oxford too as the United side used their wide play to their advantage and saw crosses into the area being flapped at or not dealt with the Oxford defence of goalkeeper. Alison Hall was a constant thorn in the sides for the visitors in the entire first half, as she was getting in good positions and giving the defence a bit of a runaround and was creating some chances for her teammates too.
Coventry then had a great shout for a penalty turned down by the referee after Amber Hughes went down inside the box under a bit of contact from the Oxford defender, but the match official waved it off. Despite their claims of a spot kick turndown, it would have been easy for the home side to lose their concentration and allow their visitors back in it, but instead it saw the home side continuing to threaten the goal again through a Ashleigh Neville shot from outside the area that just went wide of the mark.
Maz Gauntlett then saw her half-volley brilliantly saved by Demi Lambourne in the Oxford goals, with the keeper managing to push it over the bar for a corner and have Coventry still in search of a second goal in the game. Oxford then began to mount a couple of attacks themselves but it saw the home side managing to stifle their chances and clearing away. United’s defence was more than equal to anything that their opponents would throw at them in the game and instilled more confidence in the hosts and even saw them going close to a second goal, when Hall again was in the thick of the action as after a Neville cross came in for the striker to attack the ball was a tad too high for Hall to connect well on and saw the ball going out for a goal kick instead.
Both teams in the second half had half-chances in the contest in which didn’t produce many clear cut efforts for either side but did see the keepers doing more in the contest. Sue Wood in the Coventry United goals was merely a spectator in the whole of the first half, as surprisingly she didn’t have much to do for a majority of the game. Oxford were being being to the punch on everything and looked very rusty as you would expect, but even they would have been disappointed with how they were playing and their lack of creativity in the game was a worry for them too.
It is also worth noting that the home side had kept six successive clean sheets in and that record had looked to be tested when they came up against stronger opposition from the WSL.
Coventry Ladies hadn’t reached the Fourth Round of the Cup since breaking away from Coventry City in 2015 and that stat looked like changing ten minutes into the second half, when Jade Formaston managed to escape from three Oxford players tackles before then unleashing a thunderbolt from the right foot that found the back of the net to put the hosts firmly in control at 2-0 up.
Oxford very nearly hit back with a goal minutes later, when a shot on goal beat the keeper but didn’t beat the woodwork as the ball travelled across the face of goal and was quickly whipped away from danger. The visitors moved their attacking play up a notch in terms of trying to find a goal to get them back into the game, but their lack of decent chances was down to Coventry’s back line being solid and not giving the away side anything to get to excited about and saw them getting frustrated by the lack of chances coming their way.
The tie opened up a bit more in the way of attacks for both teams, as Oxford pressed more but Coventry looked the likelier to score in fairness. After her stunning goal that doubled the lead for the hosts, Jade Formaston then spotted Lambourne off her line and attempted to chip the keeper with an effort but the Oxford goalie saw it coming coming and was able to grab the ball safely and avoid going back over the line with it.
As the game went ticked by and passed the 90th minute mark in the cup-tie, it saw Oxford Women almost accepting defeat now and knowing that time had ran out for them this season in the competition. With the final passage of play petering out it saw the referee putting the whistle to his mouth and signalling for the end of the game and spark joyous scenes with the Coventry players and have their name going into the hat on Monday for the Fourth Round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup.