United concede five at home on an afternoon to forgetUnited's wait for a first FA Women's Super League 2 point of the season continued as they went down to a heavy 5-1 defeat at home to Durham at the Northcourt on Sunday. Goals in the opening ten minutes from Sarah McFadden and Nicki Gears put the U's firmly on the back foot, before Ini Umotong hauled one back. Natalie Gutteridge netted Durham's third just before the break and Beth Hepple added the fourth and fifth goals in the second half,
Coming almost a month since United's last outing, manager Les Taylor made three changes to the starting XI which were beaten 2-1 at Aston Villa previously. Chloe Bruce, Holly Pickett and Georgia Timms came into the side, while Katja Hakala, Laura Nichol and Lauren Allison dropped out.
The U's got off to the worst possible start. Just over a minute had been played when goalkeeper Demi Lambourne spilled a corner, with the loose ball falling straight to the feet of the unmarked Sarah McFadden to tap into the unguarded net. They were two behind just five minutes later when Nicki Gears outpaced Rosie Lane to latch onto a simple ball over the top before calmly rolling it past a helpless Lambourne.
Oxford were reeling, but a defensive howler from the visitors allowed them a foothold back in the match. Durham goalkeeper Helen Alderson scuffed her clearance, which was booted straight back into the path of the waiting Ini Umotong, who made no mistake when through one-on-one, sliding the ball into the bottom corner.
That settled some of the nerves and United were able to get on the front foot themselves as they sought an equaliser. Ella Franklin-Fraiture went closest, slipping her marker to meet Riva Casley's floated cross, but her flicked volley flew just over the bar.
However, as the half drew to a close the visitors started to mount the pressure on Lambourne's goal. Gears, McFaddden and Beth Hepple all saw effort go close and right on the stroke of half-time they got the goal they had been threatening. Gears delivered an excellent ball from the left-hand touchline and Natalie Gutteridge was waiting in the box to head home Durham's third.
After the break, United huffed and puffed in an attempt to get themselves back into the game. But as they struggled to break down a solid Wildcats defence, they left themselves open to the counter attack and it cost them 20 minutes into the half. Gears again got herself free on the left wing and squared for Hepple to tap in unopposed.
The visitors could have extended their lead when Jordan Atkinson got the wrong side of the defence, shooting against the underside of the bar for Lambourne to gather. She was at it again moments later, this time round the goalkeeper and flashing an effort across the face of goal as Durham started to really dictate the play.
Hepple netted again six minutes from time, finding herself in acres of space to meet a lofted ball forward and simply lifting it over the head of the stranded Lambourne.
Hepple still had time to skim the bar with a free-kick in stoppage time, but United were spared any further damage by the final whistle shortly afterwards. They travel to Yeovil Town on Wednesday night, looking to banish any lasting memories of this defeat.
United: Lambourne, Bruce (Weston 74), Frampton, Haynes (Baker 87), Casley, Lane, Umotong, Nutman, Franklin-Fraiture, Pickett, Timms (Hakala HT). Subs not used: Cox, Lee, Deeley