The sun was starting to shine in Abingdon once again as the referee blew for full time, as Oxford United got a first win of the season under their belts while Sheffield were still hunting for their first three-point haul. VAVEL was lucky enough to speak to both managers after the whistle, as the hosts earned a 1-0 win.
First off was Zoe Johnson, who’s taken over the reigns at Sheffield after the pre-season departure of Mick Mulhern. The manager bemoaned their inability to find goal they needed, “After the first half performance, it felt like we could have gone in at half time a couple of goals up but it’s the same old story, we’ve not been clinical in front of goal."
She added, "But fair play to Oxford, in the second half they’ve come at us, put us under a lot of pressure and made it hard to play against them.”
It’s still early days in the season but the result saw Sheffield slip to 9th in WSL 2, having taken just one point from their first four games.
Johnson keeps the faith
There’s certainly quality and ability in the team, a fighting Yorkshire sprit woven into the badges on each shirt that proudly proclaim, “The World’s First Football Club”. But the results haven’t always matched the performances, the question was, how do the players stop their heads from dropping?
“Every game, week in week out, we’ve felt like we could have gotten something from the game, bouncing back, it’s about how much the girls dig in," Johnson explained.
"When that first win comes I know it will be the first of many but they’ve got to dig deep and show character to get that first positive result.
This first year is mainly about getting settled with our feet on the ground," the Sheffield boss continued, obviously keen to take things in stages.
Johnson remained defiant, however: "Yes, it helps having a safety net but we’re not just here to make up the numbers, we don’t want the bare minimum.
"We’re here to compete and I think we’ve shown that we’re more than capable of that.”
Finishing the difference - Johnson
Having been promoted last year, there are obviously differences between the tiers - but what exactly are they?
“Obviously there are differences between the Northern Premier League and the Women’s Super League but we haven’t found the pace too hard to adjust to," Johnson said.
"The biggest difference is in the WPL if you miss one or two chances it’s not the end of the game because you’ll always get more but in WSL you have to take those chances because you’re not guaranteed another.
She concluded, "Those are the margins and that’s why we have to be clinical.”
Taylor delighted with the win
Oxford have not just their first points of the season, but their first win since the end of September when they dashed Yeovil’s hopes of promotion. Unsurprisingly, Les Taylor was the happier of the two managers and that was clear to see
“We’ve lost the first four of this season so when we came out for the first half confidence was low, we were panicky on the ball and kept conceding possession," he said.
"We I got them in at half time I just tried to reassure them, I just told them to play our game and get at them.
"We did, I thought we were much better in the second half and we got the goal we needed."
Taylor went on to praise both attack and defence after the full-time whistle: "Laura Nichol is really unselfish in the box she easily could have taken the shot but she played Ini [Umotong] in and it’s a good goal. At the other end I thought we defended really well and to keep a clean sheet and win, it’s just fantastic.”
Cup clash to follow
Taylor finished off by expressing his anticipation of Oxford’s next game, a home tie against Millwall in the Continental Tyres Cup. The two sides met in the first round of fixtures this season when Millwall emerged victorious after a hard-fought 5-3 win at the Northcourt.
The U’s manager expects the game to be a close one but has full belief in the ability of his team, especially now that they’ve got their first win of the year in the locker and confidence is high.
Taylor concluded, “This is a turning point for us. It’s a young squad we’ve got here and when you go the first four games of the season without picking up a point the confidence is low but this game is a massive boost for the team. Onwards and upwards!”