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Sunday 23rd April 2017 ko 16.30

Oxfordshire FA Women’s Cup Final

OXFORD CITY LADIES 2 (Avery 9 McCabe 83)

BENSON LIONESSES 0

Att c100 at Ardley United FC

Entry & Programme £4

As competitions go, I suspect this one needs a rethink as Oxford City Ladies have won this one 12 times in 16 years! Now that’s no criticism of Oxford City, you can only beat what’s in front of you, and I’d note that Oxford United’s women’s team were notable by their absence from this competition. It didn’t help when Lionesses’ manager Jon Radcliffe was told to “Enjoy your day” with no one giving his side the slightest of chances. That unintentional slight certainly galvanised Jon and his team, not that they ever needed the motivation, and I certainly know why!

Of course any hopper should know Jon and Benson Lions, they’re the team based at RAF Benson who hosted two beautifully presented North Berkshire League hop games in 2013 and 2014 making friends of everybody they met, except perhaps for the interloper at DA Shrivenham. I understand that some of the Lionnesses helped with the catering on those days, and even now Chris Berezai and I at GroundhopUK still use Benson Lions’ catering as the yardstick by which all hop catering is measured.

It was good to see Jon and the Lionesses again, I’d watched them last season as they celebrated winning the Thames Valley Counties Women’s League Division 2 North title but finished runners up in the TVCWL Cup final to another side under the Oxford City banner, the Oxford City Nomads Ladies. It was also good to see another North Berkshire League stalwart, Coby Woodley whose excellent refereeing performances as have seen him honoured with ties in several cup finals.

It’s been another good season for the Lionesses, being promoted from TVCWL Division One as runners-up and making this and once again the TVCWL final. The problem they, and any other team have when making the final of the OFA Women’s final is that Oxford City play two divisions higher, in Southern Region Women’s Premier Division.

The programme showed what the Lionesses were up against. There were quite a few City players with Women’s Super League experience with Oxford United, up against what started in 2010 as being a group of friends who just wanted to play football. You could see why few gave the Lionesses a prayer and Jon’s comment “We’re not here just to take pictures” looked like wishful thinking, even if said programme managed to unwittingly insult the Lionesses by referring to them as Carterton Ladies. Perhaps the OFA simply prints the the programme as Oxford City Ladies vs…. and forgot to change last year’s runners up?

And so it came to pass that City did win, but the story was how hard Lionesses made them work for it, and I do wonder whether it the early goal hadn’t been conceded whether Lionesses would have been able to force extra time. I and others thought they deserved nothing less.

At the end of it all, City took the trophy and celebrated in the manner of a team that expected nothing else, but the Lionesses celebrations seemed that little bit louder to me. Perhaps that’s how the weight of expectation works.

 

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