Paula Howells and Destiney Toussaint were both on the scoresheet as the London Bees picked up their first win of the season, extending Oxford United winless run.
Bees take an early lead
The game started in tentative fashion, the hosts keen to finish a disappointing year on a high with the visitors having rather fallen off of the pace since firing out of the blocks at the start of the winter season.
The first goal took no time at all to arrive, Paula Howells’ 22-yard free kick allowed to fly through the air, avoiding everyone in the box before bouncing against the inside of the far side of the net.
Following the usual home-away dynamic, the hosts shaded the possession, the visiting U’s opting to counter with speed, Chloe Chivers and Emily Allen working the channels whenever they could. The chances came thick and fast for both, Evie Clarke’s hopeful volley put wide before Kayleigh Hines saw her header finish the wrong side of Nicola Hobbs’ post, Demi Lambourne on her toes at a Bees corner, Emma Beckett’s effort another to drift wide.
With clinical efforts few and far between it was wholly predictable to see the next shot on target end up over the line. With the home defence opened up Hines had the room to turn in the box and get her shot away, the scuffed effort spilled by Hobbs, allowing it to list home.
Resetting well at the restart the Bees instantly saw a chance to retake the lead, smart work from Destiney Toussaint down the right the catalyst as she fed Beckett in the box, the captain’s header to Clarke volleyed against the bar by the young attacker. The ball boomeranged form one end of the pitch to the other as the teams yo-yoed, the visitors denied parity moments later after determined work from Chivers, the ball adjudged to have gone out before being turned home.
An open contest, the chances continued to flow into the break, both defences on their toes, the respective attacks with their tails up.
The half time break did nothing but unsettle the two sides who began to scrap for the ball again, taking their time to regain their rhythm, both ‘keepers called upon in the first ten minutes after the restart. Toussaint’s cutting run and curled shot towards the far top corner fingertipped behind before Hobbs pulled of her own acrobatic save to deny a lively Chivers.
A clash of heads and lengthy stoppage did little to inject any calm into the match, both sides lacking fluidity.
The game opened up again after the hour, the Bees stringing passes together in the attacking third and asking a few more questions of the visiting defence as Oxford still looked sharp on the counter.
A sharp attack saw Toussaint slip beyond Lauren Hayes, the attacker unable to bring the ball under control as she charged into the box, her fumbled one-two with Clarke going astray before Howells picked up the loose ball and drew a fine save out of Lambourne. The young goalkeeper ever-reliable as the hosts got more and more bodies forward, the introduction of Lucy Loomes only adding to their attacking numbers. Even still, it was the U’s who looked more like scoring off of a slick counter as the minutes ticked down.
The dying minutes saw a flurry of chance for both, Hobbs with three fine saves to deny the visitors before the Bees took no change from a run of corners. The tie settled at the very death as the Bees got forward once again, Toussaint lively in the box to fire home to seal the Bees’ first win of the season.