Sunday 10th February 2013 ko 14.00
South-West Women’s Combination
OXFORD UNITED 2 (Beaver 26secs Caswell 53)
NEWQUAY 1 (Taylor 23)
Att 10 (h/c)
Normally speaking Oxford United’s women’s team play their fixtures at the former Rover Cowley Ground, on Romanway, but with the pitch waterlogged the tie was switched to to Oxford City’s new 3G pitch at Court Place Farm.
The Community Arena incorporates a pavilion and 6 netball courts together with the full-sized, caged 3G pitch. It opened in January 2012 at a cost of £2.1 million, but there are two flaws if you’re a spectator, there is no cover, and you have to watch from the outside of the cage. The latter isn’t too bad, I’m old enough to remember fences at football grounds, but it’s difficult to track the ball from left to right as the fence gets more dense. That I won’t remember, what I will, was the freezing cold, and the driving rain that slowly turned into sleet.
Oxford are top of the division, 4 points ahead of Keynsham Town, who have 2 games in hand. That is because Oxford have had a run in the Women’s FA Cup, in fact they play Premier League Newcastle United at Grenoble Road on Sunday 24th, their first appearance at the main stadium. With the Cornish Peppermints down in eighth place I expected a straightforward home win, even if, sensibly the visitors had stayed in Oxford the night before. That would be in marked contrast to their male counterparts!
It started so well, Lauren Allison outpacing her marker; her shot was saved but Catherine Beaver was sharp enough to bury the rebound. I waited for the goals to come with a metronomic efficiency but despite Oxford having the vast majority of the possession, the goals didn’t come. Chances were spurned, and the inevitable happened. A Newquay free-kick was tipped on to the bar by keeper Hannah Cox, a follow-up shot hit the post, but Victoria Taylor was on hand to bundle home the equaliser.
The second half followed a similar patten, albeit with Natasha Caswell coming more to the fore, pushing the side forward from the centre. Eventually the pressure paid off, a clumsy challenge allowing Caswell to convert from the penalty spot. It’s a win that maintains United’s lead, and you can see how they’ve progressed so well in the cup, they maintain pressure on the opposition so well. Whether that run can be continued will be fascinating to watch.