What a start from The Hoops, catching Ascot napping in the very first minute. A short corner routine found Emily Harris on the left-hand corner of the penalty area. She hit a swirling shot which completely deceived Markham. 1-0
Ascot responded well to the going behind, but struggled to find the killer pass in the final third. However, they really should have been back on level terms after 12 minutes when Amelia Kimble met Sarah Leonard's cross on the volley from 6 yards only to see the ball smash off the bar and to safety.
Straight back up the other end Markham and her defence got into some confusion from a long ball gifting an opportunity for a long range effort with the goalkeeper out of her ground. Luckily for Ascot the ball sailed wide of the mark.
After probing away for the best of half the first period, Ascot finally got themselves level and it was an excellent piece of counter-attacking play that created the goal. Winning the ball back in their own half, Ascot immediately countered through Emily Fox's superb pass over the top of the defence. Sarah Leonard then outpaced her marked before drilling a low shot past Jenkins into the far corner. 1-1
Less than three minutes later the Yellawomen were in front. Leonard's low cross from the right was met by Amelia Kimble who beat Holly Jenkins to the ball and swept it into an empty net. 1-2. It was all Ascot now, and only the bravery of Jenkins in the home goal prevented an immediate third, when she threw herself at the feet of Leonard, who had once more burst clear of the defence. However, even the excellent Jenkins, who was to go on to make a number of top class saves, could not prevent the third goal arriving on 29 minutes. Once again it was a ball in behind that did the damage, this time from Laura Moss, perfect for Sarah Leonard to turn on the after burners before slotting home. 1-3.
From 1-0 down to 3-1 up in the space of seven minutes. Ascot were showing their top of the table credentials and Oxford were struggling to live with them.
The fourth goal didn't take much longer to arrive either, even if it was a strange one. Philippa Holden delivered a corner from the left which evaded everyone, hit the far post and crossed the line before being desperately hacked clear. Too late though, the assistant had spotted that it was over was in. 1-4.
After that Oxford, to their credit, steadied the ship. Holly Jenkins was called upon to produce another excellent stop to prevent Leonard getting her hat-trick, but the Hoops did manage to keep Ascot at bay and get through to half-time where they would need to re-group.
HT: Oxford City 1 Ascot United 4. After going a goal down so early on, Ascot took a little while to find their shooting boots but, once they did, they were relentless. Oxford must have gone in a little shell-shocked because, in all fairness, they had performed quite well, but had been put to the sword by a ruthless Ascot display going forward. To make matters worse for The Hoops, top scorer Ellie White had been limping since a challenge midway through the half.
However, if Oxford thought that Ascot might take their foot off the pedal a little, they were sorely mistaken. An early Leonard strike just wide of the mark was just a reminder of their intentions. Three minutes after the break, they made it five when Leonard's pace and trickery got her to the byline. Her cross was palmed away by Jenkins but only as far as substitute Tiff Skinner who prodded home the loose ball. 1-5.
Jenkins was called into action once more to tip over another goal bound effort from Leonard before, on 54 minutes, five became six. Laura Moss struck a free-kick, from way out, which Jenkins could only push against the bar and Alix Todd was on hand to nod home the rebound. 1-6
Clearly it was now game over. Ascot made a few changes to their line-up and lost a little bit of momentum. Not enough, however, for Oxford to get themselves back into the game. In fact, it was still Ascot who looked the more likely to add to their tally. That was, if it hadn't been for Holly Jenkins. The Oxford stopper produced save after save, keeping out Skinner again as well as Dominique Carrington. She then tipped Maddie Robertson's free-kick over the bar as Ascot went looking for a magnificent seven.
Again though, credit to City, they didn't give the game up and, as the half progressed they did start to venture into Ascot territory more and more. With 18 minutes left on the clock they managed something by way of consolation when substitute Amelia Alves-Martins drove the ball low to Markham's left, for a good finish. 2-6.
That left just one more display of goalkeeping excellence from Jenkins as she pushed Philippa Holden's effort around the post.
FT: Oxford City 2 Ascot United 6. The Yellawomen take a five point lead into the Christmas break, albeit having played two more than Bournemouth Sports. City remain in third, now ten points adrift of the leaders but two ahead of Woodley, who have three games in hand.
In the end it was comfortable victory for Ascot but Oxford gave them a little shock at the start and, to be fair, never gave up the game, even when it was all over bar the shouting. City have a good squad and will win more than they lose this seaosn. However, Ascot showed their quality all over the pitch and the pace they have down both flanks is lethal. When the 2024 fictures are released it wil be interesting to see when Ascot have to travel to Bournemouth. That game is beginning to shape up as a potential title decider.
Oxford City: 1.Jenkins, 3.Healy, 5.Slessor, 15.Latimer, 2.Hume, 12.Major, 4.Tayman(c), 9.Walecki, 17.Nicholson, 10.White, 11.Harris. Subs: 14.Austin, 16.Thorne, 6.Cook, 7.Alves-Martins, 8.Ferreira
Ascot United: Markham, Luckhurst-McCord, Drage, Moss, Fox, Holden, Robertson, Todd, Couzens, Kimble, Leanard. Subs: Huntley, Skinner, Richardson-Taylor, Killick-Bird, Carrington