Ladies: Oxford United Preview
By Chris Smith
It has been a frustrating time for Watford FC in March, although not due to results. Games scheduled for March 3, 10 and 14 have had to be postponed, either due to international call-ups or adverse weather.
The first of those was due to be at home to Oxford United Women. That was re-arranged for this Sunday, and it’s been a similar situation for both teams, with The U’s fixture in mid-week also postponed.
When the two sides finally take the field this weekend, it has the potential to be a cracker. Both teams are in a good run of form recently and previous games have been entertaining and close-fought encounters, with Watford narrowly winning the last two by a 2-1 margin.
Views from the Head Coach
It’ll have been three weeks since Watford’s victory away at Loughborough Foxes, with differing reasons preventing the Golden Girls from building on that since.
“We are very frustrated with recent postponements, but these are things we can’t control,” Armand Kavaja told watfordfc.com.
“We just have to use these opportunities to continue to work with the girls in training. In a way we are happy that we managed to get a training session in on Thursday before this game to prepare ourselves.
“The girls were very focused and understood how we’ll set up on Sunday. We’re very much looking forward to playing Oxford United this weekend.
“It’s always an interesting contest against Oxford, they are a good side who retain the ball well and are good going forward.
“The game will be determined on which team will be more organised and who takes their opportunities when they come.”
Sunday’s a big day, not only for the first team but also for Watford FC Ladies U23, who take on Stevenage Ladies in the Hertfordshire Women’s Challenge Cup final.
“Laura [Dyer – Head Coach] and Amy [Shepherd – Assistant Coach] have done a great job with the U23s,” explained Kavaja. “We have a good group of young players who have a lot of potential, they’ve shown that throughout the season either when they’ve trained or played with the first team.
“We wish them the best of luck on Sunday ahead of a tough game against Stevenage.”
Having previously played in what was then known as WSL 2 for five seasons, Oxford United began this campaign in the FA Women’s National League Southern Division.
They didn’t enjoy the greatest start, losing three of their first four in the league. Even in that spell they had scored in every game and over the next couple they turned on the style, defeating Gillingham 5-0 and Loughborough Foxes 4-2.
On October 2, they were defeated 2-1 for the third time. A loss to Coventry United following the previous defeats to Chichester, Watford and the 3-1 reverse to Milton Keynes Dons.
That defeat to Coventry over five months ago in the FA WNL was the last time they came out of a league game second-best.
They’ve taken 19 points from a possible 21 in the current spell and on occasions they’ve had to show their class to come out on top in tight games. The only time they’ve failed to take the three points was a 1-1 draw against Cardiff City. Three times they’ve won by a one goal margin, against Chichester, Plymouth and Gillingham.
That run of form sees them lie fifth in the table with a 9-1-4 record, although they do have games in hand on some of the teams around them.
Apart from the local County Cup, Oxford haven’t had the most joy in cup competitions this season, although they were handed some difficult draws.
There’s been late heart break. In the FA WNL Cup, they were knocked out by Crawley Wasps after extra-time, while they lost out to a last-minute winner against Blackburn Rovers in the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
Finally, Watford will know they’ll have to be at the top of their game defensively on Sunday. Probably the most notable statistic from the Yellows’ 2018/19 season is they’ve scored in all their 21 matches so far.
Last time out
Loughborough Foxes 1-2 Watford
Team: Baranowska, Hallsworth, Kettle, Edwards, Peck (Bell, 55), Scanlon (Carid, 55), Stojko-Down, O’Leary (Richards, 77), Kikomeko, Fatuga-Dada, Ward ©
Goals | Ward (57), Stojko-Down (84)
Oxford United 1-0 Gillingham
Team: Thomas, Haynes ©, Mobbs, Allen, Noble, Timms (Williams, 89), Fyfe (Hennessy, 90+5), Baker, Sims, Gane, Beaver (Lancaster, 82)
Goal | Fyfe (50)
Watford FC Ladies v Oxford United Women
Sunday 17th March
Ruislip Road, Northolt, Middlesex, UB5 5FA
For SATNAV purposes please use UB5 6AU
£6 Adults, £1 Under-18s, 50% off for Watford FC ST Holders