United Women beaten heavily at high-flying ReadingOxford went down to a crushing 5-0 defeat at local rivals Reading on an afternoon they will be keen to forget. Trailing 4-0 after half an hour thanks to goals from Laura May-Walkley, Lauren Bruton, Melissa Fletcher and a Jemma Connor-Iommi own goal, United were given a mountain to climb. And despite an improved second-half showing they were unable to prevent Fletcher notching again late on.
United, looking to extend their unbeaten run to four games, made just one change from the side which drew with Durham last weekend, as Laura Nichol came in at right back in place of midfielder Ella Franklin-Fraiture, with Helen King returning to her customary position in midfield.
But the U's got off to a disastrous start, falling behind in the fourth minute when May-Walkley fired home after the United defence repeatedly failed to clear their lines.
Oxford could have levelled soon after when Katie Stanley played in Lauren Allison, but she dragged her shot wide. Matters got worse for the visitors after 15 minutes when Connor-Iommi headed into her own net from a Shelly Cox free-kick.
England international Fran Kirby then made her mark for the home side, making the most of the space she was afforded to play in Bruton who fired into the bottom corner.
And Kirby was again instrumental in Reading's fourth, pulling it back from the byline for Fletcher to blast home.
United improved after the break and mostly kept Reading at bay, though they lacked the penetration to trouble the hosts. Connor-Iommi almost atoned for her earlier own goal, clipping the bar with a delicate chip but Oxford's luck was well and truly out as substitute Gemma Simmonds had her penalty appeals waved away after she appeared to have been felled in the box.
And Reading still had one final sting in the tail, adding a late fifth when Fletcher nipped in front of Demi Lambourne to flick the ball into the bottom corner.
United: Lambourne, Chivers, Connor-Iommi, Osborne-Ricketts, King (Franklin-Fraiture 65), Hines (Simmonds 72), Nutman, Nichol, Low (Pickett 72), Stanley, Allison.