The Blues looked to kickstart their faltering start to the campaign by
taking on newly-promoted Cardiff in a top-tier BUSA South Premier clash.
Oxford started brightly from the first touch of the ball, pressuring the
Cardiff back four via the new diamond midfield formation being trialled by
coach John Shaw in a bid to freshen up the tried and tested women's system.
The tactical shift bore almost immediate fruit, with a switch around the
back through the pivotal Jo Sumpter resulting in a right flank advance. The
sprightly Jess Barnes, well served all day by the midfield, tore away from
her marker with a characteristic change of pace and fed Beth Wild who
rattled home an unerring across goal shot to open the scoring. Buoyant
Oxford were still tested by the immensely talented Cardiff spine but quickly
learned to frustrate their talismanic players and dominate proceedings.
Despite conceding a succession of short corners, Cardiff couldn't find a
riposte, largely due to the imperious form of Jess Hughes and the composed
defensive duo of fresher Jo McNaught-Davis and captain Vicky Anderson.
Hughes brought out a spectacular double-save midway through the second half
after another threatening Cardiff break and the near-miss spurred the Blues
into action, as the ball was brought out of defence again a rapid break was
spearheaded by Alice Cook, seemingly reborn in her behind-the-front-two
role. The forward phalanx won a timely short corner but the initial shot
was saved, only for the ball to fall to Sumpter in the second phase who,
with time on her side, made no mistake from the top of the D. Oxford
continued to create chances and a fast end-to-end game was enjoyed by the
modest watching throng but they couldn't pull away into a further lead
despite many clear cut chances, and the game ended 2-0