Wednesday 22nd May 2013 ko 18.45
South West Women’s Combination
OXFORD UNITED 3 (Allison 4 8 Caswell 76)
SWINDON TOWN 0
Att c100 at Oxford United Training Ground, Roman Way, Oxford
“For Pete’s sake!” I thought as I drove the two or so miles to the former Rover Cowley ground, “How on earth am I still watching Oxford United when it’s nearer to June than April?”
The answers of course were manifest. Apart from a tasty local derby, Oxford United’s women’s team are the success story of the club this season, and this was the last game of the season, and it transpires, the last ever time the ladies side will use the ground. However the best reason for being there was to celebrate the side having won the league.
With the club’s election to the Women’s Super League, ground-grading considerations mean games will played at Abingdon United’s Northcourt Road. That’s a shame for the Roman way ground as its a little gem of the Oxford footballing scene. Its a gem that needs to be visited too, as its future is, at best uncertain.
The entire facility, with its cricket, bowls, social club and multiple football pitches is owned by BMW, whose car plant is behind. The lease is owned by Oxford Sports and Social club but they intend to hand back the facility and cease trading when the lease expires in 2016, citing a falling membership and demographic changes. So far there’s been no indication from BMW as to their plans for the ground.
So from now on in, the only way to see a competitive game here will be to watch Oxford United’s youth team, or hope that the Oxford City FA, (themselves having problems with dwindling interest) use the ground for a cup final. All manner of teams both on Saturday and Sunday use the outside pitches.
But the job is hand was the final game, whoever the opposition. There were two surprises though, the first was the Swindon team not forming a guard of honour as the sides came out. The second was that the league didn’t see fit to present the trophy at the end. The players celebrated with gusto, but looking through my pictures it does seem that there’s something missing- the trophy.
Now as an Oxford United fan you will probably never hear me utter this phrase again, “I felt sorry for Swindon,” but I did. I’ll leave to one side the individually sponsored kit shirts, printed with red letters on a red background, but this was for them an exercise in completing the season. They only named 2 substitutes from a possible 5, and found themselves two down in less than 10 minutes.
That was down to Natasha Caswell’s eye for a through ball and Lauren Allison’s predatory instincts in front of goal. Goals 49 and 50 for the campaign is a exceptional return, and its a pity she’ll now be lost to the club, moving to the USA on a sports scholarship. After that, the game settled down to a pattern of complete Oxford domination, Swindon being reduced to two decent chances, Abby Picton and Niamh Rawlins both seeing shots hit the bar. But with time running down Natasha Caswell was on hand to bundle Dani Anderson’s cross home to give the score a more realistic feel, and then it was time to celebrate.