Committed U's eventually beaten despite excellent defensive displayUnited's wait for their first point in FA Women's Super League 2 continues after being beaten 2-0 away to a strong Yeovil Town side. Despite a determined defensive display to keep the hosts out for more than an hour, Yeovil eventually claimed the points thanks to goals from Nicola Cousins and Annie Heatherson.
Laura Nichol returned to the United side after missing Sunday's defeat to Durham due to illness. Hannah Cox came in for her first league start of the season in goal in place of Demi Lambourne, while Madison Lee and Katja Hakala also came into the starting XI, alongside debutant midfielder Ellie Noble.
The hosts made much of the early running, but were unable to work any notable openings against a stubborn U's defence. Right back Ellis Hillman shot into the side netting and Sarah Wiltshire struck well wide from distance, but Yeovil were otherwise left frustrated by United in the opening exchanges.
Instead it was the U's who came closest to breaking the deadlock. The lively Ini Umotong was causing the Yeovil defence no end of problems, firing a 16th-minute effort high and wide. She turned provider to create a glorious opportunity for Ella Franklin-Fraiture with an incisive through ball which sliced open the Yeovil backline, but goalkeeper Charlotte Haynes was alert to the danger and rushed out to smother at the midfielder's feet before she could get her shot away.
Wiltshire went closest for the hosts. Moments after Umotong had forced another save out of Haynes with a smart turn and shot from the edge of the area, the Glovers midfielder had a go herself. Collecting the ball in space 20 yards from goal, she unleashed a ferocious strike which drifted just wide of the upright and had goalkeeper Hannah Cox scrambling.
Franklin-Fraiture went close again for United, after Holky Pickett had pulled the ball back from the bye line and Umotong had slid in to touch it on into her path. Franklin-Fraiture struck first time, but couldn't keep her effort down and it sailed just over the bar.
Yeovil could have taken the lead right on the stroke of half-time, Natasha Knapton scuffing an effort wide from close range after latching onto a dangerous ball across from Hillman. And Knapman almost gave the hosts the lead in the opening moments of the second half. Cox did will to punch clear a corner, before scrambling back across her goal to keep out Knapman's follow-up effort.
Helen Bleazard went even closer shortly after, but was again denied by a superb stop from Cox. She looked destined to score when she found herself with the ball at her feet right in front of goal, only for the United keeper to stop her shot with her feet.
The hosts piled on the pressure, but couldn't find a way past Cox, with Helen Bleazard and Hillman both being denied. In the 74th minute, she again kept out Wiltshire, tipping over her thunderous strike at full stretch. But she was finally beaten from the resulting corner as Nicola Cousins was allowed a free header at the back post to break Oxford's stubborn resistance.
It could have been worse ten minutes from time when substitute Nadia Lawrence touched on a ball into the box, but her effort came back off the inside of the post. Cousins hit the post again in stoppage time when she was Bleazard picked her out with a curling free-kick into the area. But an exhausted U's defence were eventually breached again with the final kick of the game with another cross from Bleazard found Annie Heatherson unmarked at the back post to tap in from close range.
United: Cox, Frampton, Haynes, Lane (Casley 72), Umotong, Franklin-Fraiture, Pickett, Nichol (Weston 80), Hakala, Lee, Noble. Subs not used: Baker, Timms, Deeley, Lambourne.
Report by Matt Bruce. Pictures by Getty Images.