Alisha Ware's early opener wasn't enough for three points, as Southampton FC Women claimed a well-earned point at promotion rivals Oxford United.
Ware handed Saints a lead after just seven minutes. A superb team move finishing with a square ball from Lucia Kendall into the path of the Saints forward, who made no mistake.
The visitors continued to enjoy much of the first half action but lost their lead with two minutes of the half remaining. Carly Johns picking up possession just inside the Saints box before finding the bottom corner.
It was a well contested second half, one of which neither side could find a winner from as they had to settle for a point-a-piece.
Saints made four changes to the side who beat Crawley Wasps in the semi-final of the League Cup on Sunday.
Lucia Kendall, Milly Mott, Ella Morris, Leeta Rutherford all came into the side, with Williams skippering the side in Shannon Sievwright’s absence.
The tight league standings may have suggested the two sides would be evenly matched during the early stages, but Saints took the initiative.
Their early pressure resulted in a goal after just seven minutes; a neat move rounded off by Kendall who squared the ball into the path of Ware. The Saints forward making no mistake from six yards out.
Oxford struggled to contain with the pace of Kendall and Ella Morris as the half wore on, Saints searching for a second with crosses from either flank.
The hosts could’ve been handed an equaliser from nothing, though, on 24 minutes. A mix-up at the back seeing Sarah King round the Saints keeper only for Laura Rafferty to deny a certain goal on the line.
Despite that glimpse for Oxford Saints remained with the lion’s share of possession during the first half, but chances were few and far between.
Katie Rood looked to capitalise on successive starts with a lobbed effort from just outside the area, which was claimed well by keeper Rose Kite.
But despite the pressure the second goal of the night fell Oxford’s way, Johns profiting from a loose pass in defence to equalise on 43 minutes.
Buoyed by their late leveller in the first it was all Oxford during the opening stages of the second. Rendell doing well to save and hold a shot from Johns on 52 minutes.
Despite that it only took a quick break for Saints to spark into life.
Williams found Morris with an accurate ball from midfield, who cut inside and saw the run of Ware on the left-hand side. Ware’s shot was blocked, but Rood was there to have another effort, which went agonisingly wide of the far post.
Saints grew in confidence themselves following that counter, resulting in an even affair as far as the second half was concerned.
As the half wore on it the chances continued to be sparse. Morris’s cross-turned-shot almost worrying Kite as it sailed just over the far, top corner on 74 minutes.
Saints thought they had a winner five minutes from time, as Ware played through substitute Sophia Pharoah, who tucked the ball away with her first touch. The celebrations denied by the linesman’s flag.
This sparked the game into life again for the final five minutes. Another Saints substitute Pusey trying her luck, cutting inside from the left before her shot was touched onto the post and behind.
The visitors looked to have the better of the midfield battles at just the right time, but Oxford did well to stop the visitors at the final hurdle.
Ultimately, despite the late surge, Spacey-Cale’s side had to settle for a point on the road, something they may look back on at the end of the season with fondness.
League action continues for Saints on Sunday 13th March at Snows Stadium, with the visit of Bridgwater United.