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Oxford United lifted the Oxfordshire County Cup for the first time by defeating Henley Town 2-1 in the Final at Bicester on Sunday evening.
United, the beaten finalists from 2009-10, had disposed of their conquerors Oxford City in an earlier round and this time faced opposition from one division below them. Henley gave a very good account of themselves and the match looked to be headed for extra time when Stacey Coles scored a fine winning goal.
A very even first half saw Oxford score first when Lorraine Bell was penalised for handling a Jane Younger cross and Lauren Allison converted the penalty on 26 mnutes. Henley, playing down the slope, were constructing dangerous attacks but it was direct play which brought their equaliser. Maz Fowler hit a high bouncing ball which the United defence failed to deal with, allowing Amy Davies to nip in and lob keeper Ellen Hopkins on 33 minutes.
Although Oxford created the clearer chances, having a Lucy Paley goal disallowed and Lauren May shooting just over, Henley had shaded possession in the first half.
Oxford stepped up their game after the break and pinned Heney in their own half for long periods without creating many chances, owing to the outstanding defensive work of Bell and Kate Greenacre who sealed up the centre of defence and good goalkeeping by Jo Anderson, who was very quick off her line to frustrate the United attack on several occasions. The closest Oxford came was an Amy Chivers header on to the bar from an Ellie Roberts corner on 68 minutes and sub Harriet Dearlove shooting just over on 78 minutes.
It was another substitute, Stacey Coles, who decided the outcome. A quick Gina Ianniello throw in saw Coles measure a powerful left foot strike from 25 yards into the top corner with five minutes left, a winning goal worthy of the occasion.
The young Oxford United team, unbeaten in the Southern Region League Premier Division since November, deserved to win on their second half performance but Henley, mid-table in Dvision One after relegation last season, battled with great heart and spirit throughout. A warm evening brought out a crowd of around 300 for a well run event and an enjoyable contest.
Oxford United: Ellen Hopkins, Gina Ianiello, Nell Boxall, Amy Chivers, Fran Preston, Lucy Paley, Emily Moore, Lauren May, Lauren Allison, Ellie Roberts, Jane Younger. Subs: Holly Pickett, Harriet Dearlove, Stacey Coles, Lindsay Pinker, Nina Merritt.
Henley Town: Joanne Anderson, Lorraine Bell, Kirsten Thomson, Ali Johnson, Beth Williams, Emma Cooke, Sinead Thompson, Amy Davies, Grace Snell, Marianne Fowler, Kate Greenacre. Subs: Charlotte Maskell, Wendy Waterman, Mel Pope, Amy Cox.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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