So, that being said, this particular match blog is pretty much all about the match.
This was my third football match of a pretty busy weekend. Saturday morning I was in Blewbury watching my daughter's side win 1-0 in the cup. Later that afternoon I was in Padbury, watching the home side edged out by Burghfield in another cup match. Now, on Sunday, after a flying visit to the Midlands in the morning, I was back at Marsh Lane for this Southern Region Premier League clash between fifth placed Oxford City and third placed Woodley United.
When I got to the Raw Charging Stadium the teams were out warming up. The first thing I noticed was that Woodley appeared to have a distinct lack of numbers. As it happened they could only name one substitute and had at least six familiar names missing from recent team sheets, maybe more. Oxford fielded seven of the players who started in the 5-1 win at Kidlington. Holly Jenkins was back between the sticks, Bailee Latimer and Georgia Hodgetts were back in and Summer Major moved up from last week's substitute appearance. Anna Cook, Amber Le-Beau and Jessica Austin dropped to the bench.
After those two early attempts at goal, the game settled into an end-to-end affair with not too many clear cut chances. Georgia Tayman demonstrated her vision and passing ability again when she slipped in White on the 10 minute mark, but good Woodley cover restricted the chance to a corner which came to nothing. At the other end, Sarah Lawrence once again stung the hands of Holly Jenkins. The ball in between the centre-backs and right-back of Oxford was proving to be a source of trouble for the defence, given the pace of Lawrence. Just past the quarter-hour Woodley's focus of attack switched to the right and Sajunae Turner's ball across the face of goal was inches from being poked home by Lawrence.
At this point the game was a tight, cagey affair. Just before the half-hour another through ball found Summer major who fired wide, but the flag had already gone up anyway. Then came what proved to be a decisive moment in the game. Bonnie Messitt went down in the centre of the pitch and was clearly in some distress. Almost immediately the signal for a stretcher was sent to the side-lines and, after a lengthy delay, Messitt was carried off. Thankfully she was sitting up and even appeared to be smiling (or was that a grimace?) as she left the field. Torn ligaments I was told later. I guess one of the benefits of Oxford City's ground being practically in the grounds of John Radcliffe Hospital. A short trip to A & E. Best wishes to Bonnie for a swift recovery. Woodley, having been forced into the change, were now left with no options on the bench.
The delay didn't help with the flow of the game and, as before, it was still a little disjointed. That was until the 39th minute when Oxford's deadly duo took it into their own hands to break the deadlock. Emily Harris drove down the left and then found strike partner Ellie White in the centre of the penalty area. She fired low past Cheadle, who got something on it but couldn't keep it out. 1-0
HT Oxford City 1 Woodley United 0. A fairly even first half. Both sides had their chances but it was Oxford who managed to convert one of them. The question is, can Woodley find a way back without any other players to call on from the bench?
Oxford were now beginning to get a grip on the game. Tayman, once again demonstrating her vision, almost created a goal for White when she threaded another ball through the Woodley defence. This time, however, Sophie Cheadle was out quickly and bravely to smother the ball at the attackers feet. Woodley's response to this was another ball down the left where Lawrence was still creating many headaches for the home defenders.
Just past the hour the home side doubled their lead when a free-kick played into the penalty area was not fully cleared by Woodley. Georgia Hodgetts latched onto the loose ball and drove it low past Cheadle's left hand. 2-0
There were twenty minutes left on the clock when another cross from Woodley's left evaded players in the box and skipped up off the surface, appearing to hit the arm of a defender. Nothing given but there were plenty of Woodley shouts for a penalty and, to be fair, I've seen plenty of those given by VAR. However, it would have been very harsh on the defender who really had little time to react.
Two minutes later Ellie White had a glorious opportunity to sew the game up but slid her shot just wide of the mark. That was quickly followed by a half-chance for Woodley when yet another ball from the left, this time towards the near post, was net by Mollie Haines, who had been pushed further forward from her full-back role. The Woodley player got to the ball first but her flick went narrowly wide of the post. It was to be Woodley's last real attempt on goal.
With thirteen minutes remaining City substitute Erin Nicholson once again forced Cheadle into a full length save. This time, however, the Woodley stopper could only push the ball into the path of Ellie White who made no mistake from 6 yards. 3-0
There was still time for Cheadle, who had had a very good game, to prevent Tayman and Harris from getting their names on the scoresheet, but certainly no way back for the visitors.
FT Oxford City 3 Woodley United 0. A fairly comfortable win in the end for Oxford. Woodley may have had a depleted squad for this game but, to be fair to Oxford, they looked a very good side who would give any team a problem on this form. The Hoops were solid at the back, driven and brilliantly led by captain Georgia Tayman in the middle and very lively and dangerous going forward. Emily Harris and Ellie White now have over 30 goals between them. Any side with that sort of firepower is going to be a threat. Woodley kept battling but the loss of Bonnie Messitt was a blow to them. Sarah Lawrence's pace up the left was a constant danger to Oxford but Holly Jenkins wasn't put under too much pressure at any point.
Woodley now have a long break to get injuries healed and re-group. Oxford, meanwhile, have a very tasty looking game against leaders Ascot United at the Raw Charging Stadium next Sunday. That could be a cracker.
Oxford City: Jenkins, Healy, Slessor, Latimer, Hume, Hodgetts, Tayman(c), Major, Chapman, White, Harris. Subs: Le-Beau, Austin, Thorne, Cook, Nicholson
Woodley United: Cheadle, Sims, Stringer, Sawyer, Lawrence, Surtees, Turner, Messitt, Haines, Hamblin, Harry. Subs: Skinner