Naomi Cole was once again the U’s tormentor as she scored another late FAWNL Cup goal.
In blistering heat at Court Place Farm Wasps kicked-off to get the game underway.
In a game that started with a surprisingly high tempo, with both teams keen to impose their will early, it was the home side who settled quicker and began to find a little rhythm; Haynes shooting from distance and then Hines attempting the same minutes later, both failing to test Frankie Gibbs.
A matter of minutes into the game and the players were already visually showing the effects of the intense heat.
Locked in a closely contested midfield battle, neither side had created any genuine chances, but their application was good, with Wasps attempting to play out from back through the thirds, and Oxford applying an exhausting high press.
Crawley’s best chance to create an opportunity came after 15 minutes when Cole pressured Haynes, who took the Row-Z approach and smashed the ball from danger.
After around 20 minutes both teams were forced into making changes: Searle replaced Kirby for Oxford, while Young replaced Pittuck for Wasps.
After a short water break the game resumed.
Around 25 minutes into the game and Wasps forced their first corner, Sercombe climbing above Russell to gather the ball well.
The game was largely contested in the middle of the park, and while there was nothing too penetrating from either side, it was developing into an intriguing contest.
Nearing the end of the half, Oxford won several corners: Stephenson coming off the front post well to win a commanding header, Gibbs climbing high and opting to punch. Crawley dealt with the pressure well, the U’s unable to take advantage.
Crawley’s best chance of the half came just before half-time. A through ball found the feet of Cole, met by a scrambling Sercombe, the U’s keeper did just enough to distract the forward who put the ball wide.
Oxford had one final chance of the half when good work down the right from Roberts saw her find Johns in space, whose cross struck a Crawley defender, almost finding her own net as a result.
The referee blew his whistle to conclude the first-half that saw neither Gibbs or Sercombe really tested. 45 minutes with very few genuine chances.
Half-time: Oxford United Women 0 – 0 Crawley Wasps
The second-half recommenced and familiarity along with it, a half-chance from Lancaster from distance comfortably held by Gibbs, Crawley playing out from the back: Palmer, to Young, to Stephens.
As the match wore on and legs began to tire it became a game of attrition: the players versus the unbelievable heat, the 3G pitch doing the players no favours.
Oxford had rarely looked troubled, and other than a few routine catches, Sercombe had little to do, but as the game entered the last 20 minutes, Crawley began to find more space; Beaver showing good strength to see off any danger, Ellie Searle making a well-timed challenge to deny substitute Ledezma-Viso, Nash finding space to make bursting runs. Crawley benefiting from fresh legs and were now enjoying their best period of the game.
Wasps almost made the breakthrough with 18 minutes to go when a concise pass from Nash found a forward in the box, who dragged her shot wide of Sercombe’s right post.
Oxford also began making use of some of the gaps appearing down the left-hand side, Seale and Bent combining well before Bent’s dangerous cross was headed out by Russell.
With five minutes to go extra-time looked likely, but a defensive mistake saw Naomi Cole through on goal and finish smartly past Sercombe. Cole -who scored late against the U’s in the FAWNL Cup last season to rescue the game and deny Oxford the win – was once again Wasps’ hero.
Oxford United 0 – 1 Crawley Wasps
Late into the game and Oxford tried to mount pressure, attempting a number of shots from range, but with time against them Crawley managed to see the game out as the referee blew the final whistle on a very closely contested fixture.
Wasps progress to the first round of the FAWNL Cup, while Oxford enter the FAWNL Plate competition.
Both teams return to league action at the weekend as Oxford hope to bounce back when they travel to Watford, while Crawley host bottom side Hounslow.
Oxford: Sercombe, Roberts, Clifford, Beaver, Kirby (Searle), Hines, Haynes (c), Johns, Lancaster (Baker), Bent, Timms (Moore).
Wasps: Gibbs, Russell, Palmer, Pittuck (Young), James, Rabson, Owen, Stephens (Ledezma-Viso), Stevenson (Nash), Cole (c), Flieschman.