United go down heavily at DurhamOxford United fell to their first defeat of the season as they were beaten 3-0 at Durham. The visitors dominated for large spells of the game, but were unable to finish their chances and they paid the price as the home side struck with goals from Becky Beech, Amelia Pereira and Courtney Corrie.
Having missed United's opening match due to illness, Amy Chivers returned to the starting XI in place of Isi Meade, while Lindsay Pinker came into the side for Ella Franklin-Fraiture. Lauren Allison, who was also absent the previous week against Watford, started on the bench.
United got off to the worst possible start, falling behind with just five minutes played when Beth Hepple found Becky Beech lurking at the back post, who made no mistake from close range. It was an unfortunate defensive lapse, coming after a bright opening for the U's, and they quickly set about pulling themselves level.
Kayleigh Hines had earlier fired an effort over the bar and captain Sahara Osborne-Ricketts went close with a low driven free-kick. That attacking intent continued after falling behind, with Lindsay Pinker seeing her effort blocked by some desperate defending after a corner found its way out to her.
Amelia Pereira went close to adding a second for the hosts midway through the half, cutting in from wide before curling a shot just off target. But normal service was soon resumed and it was the visitors who did most of the pressing, with Hines again going close from distance.
The second half followed a similar pattern, with Pinker finding herself in space in front of goal but unable to direct her effort on target. Katie Stanley did well to trick her way through several challenges, but her shot lacked power and was well held by Durham goalkeeper Helen Alderson.
Alderson was Durham's hero again when she saved spectacularly from Lindsay Pinker to preserve the home side's lead and then collecting the resulting corner coolly under considerable pressure from several U's attackers. Stanley was next to be thwarted by the determined Durham keeper, who charged out of her goal to make a vital block as the United winger bore down on goal.
It had been all one way in the second half, but United somehow found themselves two goals down with 20 minutes to play. Amelia Pereira picked the ball up wide on the left-hand side, tricked her way through several challenges before unleashing an unstoppable right-footed shot which left goalkeeper Demi Lambourne with no chance.
Visibly deflated, United failed to respond and could have fallen further behind when Beth Hepple hit the bar with a dangerous free-kick, with Sarah Wilson heading the rebound over the bar. But the hosts did get their third in injury time when Courtney Corrie caught Lambourne off her line, knocking the ball over the stranded U's keeper before nodding it into the empty net.
United: Lambourne, Bruce, Lane, Osbourne-Ricketts, Chivers, Nutman, Hines, Pinker (Allison 65), Pickett, Stanley (Low 70), Simmonds. Subs not used: Jaadla, Cox, Walklett.