Oxford United Women lose out in Continental Cup
Oxford's debut Continental Cup appearance ended in disappointment after they were subjected to a heavy 9-2 defeat at the hands of a strong Bristol Academy side which included a number of internationals.
United named an unchanged side from that which started against Yeovil at the weekend but against a top WSL 1 side they couldn't enjoy the same time and space on the ball.
Instead it was the hosts who dominated the play, taking the lead after just nine minutes. Goalkeeper Hannah Cox did well to palm away Natalia Pablos Sanchon's effort from the edge of the area but Laura Del Rio was on hand to poke in the rebound.
And just moments later she netted her second in spectacular fashion, taking aim from 25 yards before unleashing a beautiful effort which curled over Cox and into the far corner of the net. Pablos Sanchon made it three with just 16 minutes played, prodding in at the back post after Cox had missed Corinne Yorston's cross.
Katie Stanley kept Oxford in touch, beating goalkeeper Mary Earps with a spectacular effort of her own. But it did little to stem the flow of goals at the other end and the hosts restored their three-goal cushion soon after, Pablos Sanchon shooting into the roof of the net after an intricate passing move had picked the United defence apart.
United enjoyed a better spell as the half wore on, with striker Lauren Allison coming close to heading home Stanley's floated ball across, but they were hit again on the break on the stroke of half-time as Del Rio nodded in for her hat-trick.
The U's looked much brighter after the break, with Kayleigh Hines going close with an early long-distance effort. And the U's finally got a deserved second goal just before the hour mark when Kat Nutman's speculative effort was spilled over the line by Earps.
But the home side hit back again, Nikki Watts volleying in at the far post after arriving late to meet a dangerous ball in. And Watts struck twice more from close range in quick succession, scoring her hat-trick inside the space of 11 minutes.
The hosts weren't done, Jemma Rose firing in an unstoppable free-kick from all of 30 yards which flew like a bullet past Cox into the back of the net.
United struggled to live with their higher-league opponents for large periods of the match, but fortunately will not have to face sides of this quality on a weekly basis. They now have two weeks to prepare for their next Continental Cup match at home to WSL 1 leaders Notts County on Thursday May 15.
United: Cox, Hines, Osborne-Ricketts, Chivers, Stanley, Allison, Caswell (Nutman 45), Pickett (Lowder 75), King (Franklin-Fraiture 66), Connor-Iommi, Lane. Subs not used: Mobbs, Pinker, Low, Lambourne.