Robinesses 0-1 Oxford United

13th October 2023

Report by Grace Gunn.

Cheltenham Town Ladies suffer their first home defeat of the season against a high-flying Oxford United side.

Both sides started well but it was the Robinesses who provided the early threat with number nine Phoebie Poole (pictured) coming the closest.

The U’s also had their fair share of early chances through Lacy Liggett, with the forward rising above the sea of reds but the header was glanced wide.

It was the visitors who broke the deadlock, converting the only goal, on the stroke of half time after captain Leah Burridge slotted it into the back of the net despite the Robinesses’ resilient defending.

First Half

The Robinesses started lively as the skilful Lily Billingham drove through the midfield before laying it off to Poole, who was brought down, winning a free kick but Oxford stood resolute, defending the chance. 

Moments later, the U’s had a flurry of chances themselves but a timed-to-perfection sliding tackle from captain Emily Owen, saw their chances amount to nothing.

With both sides well poised, the battle of possession continued as the rapid Robiness Poole forced the keeper into playing a short ball but not before the number nine intercepted the chance; the deflection rolled just wide of the post.

Following a ‘player of the match’ performance against Rugby Borough, Aimee Watson continued to display her quick reflexes following a well struck shot from the opposition.

The chances continued to flow for both sides as it was Billingham who came closest this time following a curling effort on the edge of the area but the number 10’s effort had a bit too much on it.

With Oxford on the attack, Watson was there once again after denying Zoe Barratt from breaking the deadlock, at point blank range. 

A frantic few moments saw Burridge rattle the crossbar before Sarah King’s rebound was met by Watson but the save fell to the feet of Burridge again however Owen was there to clear it off the line, preventing the opener.

Despite the host’s resolute defending, Oxford went ahead moments before the break after Burridge was first to the tap in at the back post. 

Second Half

Robinesses’ manager Tom Davies made a change at half time as Ffion Llewellyn made way for Daisy Ackerman, who wasted no time in getting involved as the wing back stormed down the wing before striking from range, but the number three couldn’t keep her attempt on target.

Minutes later, Davies was forced into another change after Billingham was unable to continue following a late and reckless challenge from the opposition; Natasha Harding replaced the number 10, coming on for her debut.

The former Welsh international made an instant impact after driving up the pitch, getting a shot away but the effort nestled straight into the keeper’s arms.

Another chance came for the home side after Harding won a corner, but Poole couldn’t keeper Ackerman’s cross on target, heading it wide.

With just 15 minutes left to play, the Robinesses continued to hunt for the equaliser as Emily Allen looked to thread the ball through into the box, but a red shirt couldn’t get on the end of it. 

Despite the onslaught from Cheltenham, Watson remained alert as the U’s broke late on, but the keeper was there to prevent the 2-goal deficit. 

In the final moments of added time, Ackerman looked to fire her side level late on but a scuffle in the box from Oxford, saw them deny a clean strike.

In spite of the Robinesses’ resilience, it was the visitors, Oxford United, who left with all three points.

Cheltenham: Watson, Finch, Owen, Llewellyn (Ackerman 45), Buxton (Lue 87), Allen, Collis, C.Taylor, Lewis, (J.Taylor 73) Billingham (Harding 58), Poole.

Cheltenham Player of the Match: Emily Owen

Attendance: 169

D2 Interactive