U's bow out of the Continental Tyres Cup
Oxford are out of the Continental Tyres Cup after being beaten 2-0 at home to WSL 1 side Birmingham City in the first round. A first-half penalty from Andrine Hegerberg and Melissa Lawley's late strike ultimately proved the difference, but the U's can take credit for competing well against higher-league opposition.
Manager Les Taylor made two changes to the side which held WSL 2 leaders Yeovil Town to a 2-2 draw on Thursday evening, with Demi Lambourne coming in between the sticks in place of Hannah Cox, while Ellie Noble replaced the injured Madison Lee.
After a scrappy opening, it was the visitors who got themselves on the front foot, but found themselves repeatedly frustrated by a determined United defence. Isabelle Linden did get the wrong side of the Oxford back line in the 23rd minute, but was unable to keep her shot down.
That sparked a spell of pressure for the visitors, with only an excellent block from Laura Rafferty on the line denying Hegerberg from close range a minute later and Lambourne smothering well at the feet of the Scandinavian when she found herself in space in the box from the resulting corner.
The visitors finally made the breakthrough ten minutes before half-time, when Lambourne pulled Linden down in the box. Although she dived the right way, the U's keeper was unable to get a hand to Hegerberg's spot-kick as it slipped just inches past her fingers and into the bottom corner.
The WSL 1 side continued to press forward after the break, but Umotong almost brought United level 12 minutes into the second half. Lauren Haynes' long clearance caught the Birmingham defence off guard, allowing the powerful striker to burst through and sting the palms of goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley.
Umotong did beat the Birmingham keeper 11 minutes from time, striking first time from Ella Franklin-Fraiture's through ball only to see her effort come back off the inside of the post. But just moments later, United's hopes were dashed as the visitors added a second. Cutting through a crowded penalty area with a neat exchange of passes, Lawley then rolled the ball past United's substitute goalkeeper Cox to end Oxford's involvement in the competition for another year.
United: Lambourne (Cox 49), Frampton, Haynes, Lane, Umotong, Allison, Franklin-Fraiture, Pickett, Nichol (Deeley 69), Rafferty, Noble (Timms 64)