2016 Continental Cup - Preliminary Round review: Oxford, Sheffield and Bees all book spot in next round

Sheffield were the surprise package of the early round, as they dispatched Durham.

2016 Continental Cup - Preliminary Round review: Oxford, Sheffield and Bees all book spot in next round
Credit: Susan Gutteridge

As the 2016 edition of the Continental Tyres Cup got underway, there were six sides in preliminary round action.

Lionesses unable to roar into next round – Oxford United 1-0 Millwall

Last time the two sides met on the opening day, Millwall were the victors in a cold and wet eight-goal game; which couldn’t have been further from what happened today. Neither side could carve out a real chance and the first shot on target didn’t come until the second half, Ashlee Hicks firing straight into Hannah Cox’s waiting arms.

But as the heat continued to soar, Millwall started to melt. Oxford tested Sarah Quantrill more frequently, Laura Nicol and Ini Umotong forced the experience 'keeper into two smart saves in quick succession, so it was little surprise when the U’s broke the deadlock.

Georgia Timms, fresh off of the bench and straight from the Oxford academy, nodded past Quantrill after the 'keeper had parried Umotong’s shot back into the box. With not much more than ten minutes left on the clock, the exhausted Lionesses couldn’t find a way back into the match.

Sheffield register first win of the year – Sheffield 3-1 Durham

Sheffield opened the scoring just before the half hour, Emma Johnson stroked into the far corner from the edge of the box although the goal came against the run of play Sheffield stood firm and took their advance into the break. Both teams came out strong in the second half but it looked like the hosts were going to hold onto the 1-0 lead until the whistle. However, with a little more than ten minutes left to play, Durham found an equaliser; Rachel Lee blasting a 25-yard volley past Juliana Draycott.

On the hottest day of the year there was no respite for either side as both went all guns blazing for a winner. Substitute Chelsea Flanagan with her own 25-yard wonder-strike gave the hosts the advantage once again with less than five minutes left on the clock. The Wildcats frantically searched for another equaliser but could do nothing to stop Hannah Dale’s curled free kick from reaching the top corner very late in the day.

Hornets left with a sting in the tail – Watford 0-2 London Bees

The last time Watford and London Bees met the Hornets hit the Bees with two late goals to ensure they left The Hive with a point on the opening day of the season; the Bees were keen to make no mistake this time. The first half was unsurprisingly open with the Bees shading the chances but it looked like the two were heading into the break all square until Ashleigh Goddard was on hand to tap-in from a Paula Howells' through ball on the stroke of half time.

The two sides were barely back out for the second half before Nikki Watts doubled the visitors' advantage, finishing from close range after being found by Goddard. After that the game got a little scrappy as both sides struggled to deal with the heat, with ten minutes left on the clock Sahara Osborne-Ricketts wrestled Jo Wilson to the ground in the box and the Bees had a glorious chance to make it three.

Lucy Gillett saved face with an excellent stop to deny Watts from the spot. Gillett was on hand two keep the score respectable throughout the last ten minutes of the game, with Watford unable to find an opening to trouble the opponents.

The draw for the first round proper is as follows:

Everton vs Liverpool
Doncaster Belles vs Sunderland
Yeovil Town vs Notts County
Aston Villa vs Man City
Reading vs Arsenal
Oxford vs Birmingham City
Sheffield vs Bristol City
London Bees vs Chelsea

All ties are scheduled to be played on the 3 July, except for Everton - Liverpool which is due to take place on the 2 July.