WSL 2 Week 2 Review: Sheffield and Spurs grab first wins of the season

Oxford the unexpected table-toppers after two matches

WSL 2 Week 2 Review: Sheffield and Spurs grab first wins of the season
Credit: Getty/NurPhoto

In the season week of the WSL 2 season Sheffield, Brighton, Spurs all scooped three points with respective wins over the Bees, Durham, Villa as the Belles and Millwall were forced to share the spoils at the Keepmoat, the big story of the day Oxford's win over Watford enough to take them to the sumit of the table.  

Sheffield 3-1 London Bees

Bright from the off, Katie Anderson opened the scoring at the third time of asking when she skipped through the defence and fired low to slip the ball past Nicola Hobbs inside of the near post. The Bees responded well, levelling through Paula Howells before the hosts swiftly regained the lead, Jenna Dear the one to benefit from Anderson’s smart lay-off before she curled home.

The game remained open throughout despite the driving rain and less than perfect conditions, a better start to the second-half by the Bees left to count for naught as Sheffield furthered their lead around the hour. Mel Johnson in the right place to turn the ball home after the visitors had failed to clear the danger, the game stretched once more as the two battled until the last. Both left soggy, Sheffield with their first win of the season, the Bees left rooted to the floor of the table.

Brighton and Hove 3-2 Durham

The Seagulls got off to the perfect start at home, Fliss Gibbons grabbing her first for her new team in the eighth minute, found by a long ball before slipping behind and beating Helen Alderson at the first time of asking. One of the teams expected to do well this season, the Wildcats were left stunned when the hosts doubled their lead, Ini Umotong’s overhead kick enough to beat any ‘keeper in the league. 

The visitors managed to pull one back just before the break from their own prolific attacker, Zoe Ness the one to set Beth Hepple up before the teenager slipped the ball under Lucy Gillett. The game turned on its head after the break when Gillett was shown a straight red for bringing down Nicki Gears when she was bearing down on goal, the Seagulls a man light, Umotong the one to make way for the back-up ‘keeper. The bad news got worse for the hosts as Hepple doubled her tally with the resulting free kick from the edge of the area but they weren’t out of it by any means and regained the lead late in the day. Another sloppy challenge in the final third saw Brighton win a penalty for a trip on Gibbons by Caroline Dixon, Dani Buet calm from 12-yards to drive the ball home.  

The penalty enough for the Seagulls to hang onto and see out the match for their second win of the season, a surprising early loss for Durham.  

Doncaster Belles 2-2 Millwall

The Belles took the lead at home in an early contest that saw Ashlee Hincks come close in the opening exchanges, wrapping her free kick off of the bar before the hosts cleared, Bex Raynor more clinical at a set piece at the opposite end ten minutes later. The young attacker in the right place to send Sarah Quantrill’s parry back towards goal and across the line before Rhiannon Roberts doubled the advantage, the defender bright at the back-post to volley Chloe Peplow’s free kick home. The Lionesses able to grab a goal in the last knockings of the first-half when Charlie Devlin’s shot deflected past Jules Draycott to cut the Belles’ lead and give them something to build on after the break.

Still open but a little stilted the game continued to teeter throughout the second-half, both continued to see chances saved or sent wide, the Belles unwilling to let go of their lead, Millwall not looking to drop any points so early in the season. The hosts able to turn the screw late in the day and push their opposition back, probing for a third to wrap the game up without any undue hassle but unable to capitalise they found themselves pegged back on the counter. A long ball over the top gave Hincks something to chase down as she beat Draycott to it before touching it home from just inside the box, levelling the scores with three minutes left on the clock.

With little left the Belles had one last late push, a corner and skewed shot from Peplow all they had time for, a draw a frustrating result for the hosts who probably felt they could have had all three points. The result far from a bad one for Millwall who have been looking to improve their away form to really challenge this season. 

Spurs 2-0 Aston Villa

After both sides fell to opening day losses both were looking to get three points on the board sooner rather than later, Spurs the ones to strike first through Bianca Baptiste whose corner curled all the way in at the near-post. The game stayed nice and open throughout the first-half, though neither could add to the scores, Baptiste’s goal all to separate the pair at the break. 

A fiercely contested match throughout, both remained lively seeing chance after chance, the Villainesses left frustrated late in the day when Bethan Merrick’s curler caught the top of the bar as they plugged away looking for an equaliser. The match put just beyond their reach fifteen minutes from time when Birmingham loanee Coral Haines gathered the ball in the box from Lauren Pickett’s low cross and fired past Sian Jones.

Still with neither side relenting both continued to push for goals, coming unstuck against the ‘keepers, the two goals more than enough to see Spurs claim their first WSL win with Villa yet to get off of the mark. 

Watford 3-1 Oxford United

Looking a much more stable team that they were at the start of the year, Oxford got off to a flying start in Hertfordshire when Hannah Short scrambled Dan Cartlon’s free kick home in the seventh minute. A tough contest throughout, the hosts saw a number of chances at corners but failed to capitalise before Kayleigh Hines thundered home a sublime free kick just after the half hour. The second goal only served to fire the hosts up and they soon cut the deficit back to one, Sarah Jones back-post header a swift response as the Golden Girls finally made use of a corner.

Despite impetus from both the game remained finely poised until the 78 minute when the U’s put the match beyond doubt. Emily Allen’s attempts to pressurise the back-line as Watford looked to play out successful, the 25-year-old happy to nip in and slot the ball past Fran Kitching.  

The win sees Oxford take the top spot, the U’s just one of two teams to still have a 100% record two games into the season, they sit above Brighton on goal difference alone. The Golden Girls stay in the bottom three who are yet to pick up points this year. 

WSL 2 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)
WSL 2 table as it stands (Credit: The FA)

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