United Women beaten at Birmingham in the Continental Cup
United are still waiting for their first point in the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup after going down to a 3-0 defeat at WSL 1 side Birmingham City. Mel Lawley put the home side ahead before the break before goals from Freda Ayisi and Kirsty Linnett put the result beyond doubt.
Returning to cup action, there were four changes to the United side, with Demi Lambourne returning in goal, Laura Nichol coming into the defence alongside debutant Maddison Lee and Ella Franklin-Fraiture making her return to the Oxford midfield.
It was always likely to be tough against higher-league opposition and Birmingham stormed out of the blocks, Kirsty Linnett drawing a smart save from goalkeeper Demi Lambourne with just a minute played. Lambourne was again needed to beat away Mel Lawley's close-range effort on the turn as the hosts piled on the pressure.
The U's defended stoutly for half an hour, but were eventually breached when Lawley raced onto a simple ball through the middle before slotting past an unguarded Lambourne in the United goal.
Linnett was granted a golden opportunity to double the home side's lead when Birmingham were awarded a penalty after Rosie Lane was adjudged to have handled in the box. However, the Birmingham striker fluffed her lines from the spot, launching the ball well over the bar and out of the ground.
United started the second half much more brightly, with some positive link-up play from striker Destiney Toussaint and the more advanced midfield. However, they were unable to prevent Birmingham from doubling the lead when Freda Ayisi twisted her way through several challenges before firing low to Lambourne's right.
Linnett netted Birmingham's third on 67 minutes, drifting away from her marker to collect Emily Westwood's pass in space before striking powerfully across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Even at 3-0 down Oxford's heads never dropped and in the latter stages could have got on the scoresheet themselves. Destiney Toussaint had the ball in the back of the net shortly before the end after capitalising on some hesitant defending and charging down an attempted clearance, but her efforts went unrewarded as the goal was cancelled out for an unfair challenge on the goalkeeper. United had chances to get themselves off the mark in a positive final few minutes, but were unable to find a way past the Birmingham defence.
United: Lambourne, Meade, Hines, Lane, Stanley (Pinker 90+3), Nutman, Pickett (Low 68), Nichol, Toussaint, Franklin-Fraiture, Lee. Subs not used: Cox, Baker, Dandridge.