U's end season with defeatOxford United's maiden WSL 2 season ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa at Northcourt Road. The sides were level at the break but second-half goals from Maddy Cusack and Maisie Baker gave the visitors the points.
United made one change from the side which were narrowly beaten by eventual champions Sunderland last time out, with winger Laura Low dropping to the bench in place of Gemma Simmonds, who started the game up front with Lauren Allison and Katie Stanley out wide.
And it was a combination of those two wide players who almost gave the home side an early lead in the opening minute as Allison raced down the left wing before pulling the ball back across goal, but Stanley was unable to get the necessary touch to divert it goalwards.
The visitors soon hit back, with Katie Wilkinson curling a wind-assisted shot narrowly wide of Demi Lambourne's right post. United's Kayleigh Hines then had a glorious opportunity from free-kick right on the edge of the area after Helen King had been tripped, but her low drive was deflected away by the wall.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the greater amount of pressure towards the end of the half, with Lambourne being called upon to smother one promising attack following a scramble in the United penalty area.
After the break, Ella Franklin-Fraiture could have put United ahead, shooting narrowly wide from distance. But Villa's Emma Follis went even closer with one ambitious effort which sailed over the head of Lambourne before hanging in the air due to the gusty conditions and coming down onto the top of the bar.
And the visitors finally broke the deadlock with 70 minutes played, Katie Wilkinson opening up the United defence with an excellent through-ball for Maddy Cusack to poke home. The anticipated fightback from the U's never really materialised as they had to play for a considerable period of time with just ten players, with Lauren Allison receiving lengthy treatment on the sidelines on what appeared to be an ankle injury.
And Maisie Baker killed off any hopes of an equaliser two minutes from the end as the United defence were caught out at a free-kick. A dangerous ball was floated across the face of goal before being headed into the path of the lurking Baker, who had plenty of time and space in front of goal to pick her spot. She duly converted, burying the ball in the bottom corner to seal United's fate.
United: Lambourne, Nichol, Osborne-Ricketts, King, Connor-Iommi (Chivers HT), Hines, Nutman, Allison, Simmonds (Low 64), Stanley, Franklin-Fraiture (Pickett 72). Subs not used: Marshall, Lane.
Ref: K Howick.