Ini goal not enough for WomenOxford United Women slipped to a second successive defeat in FA Women's Super League 2 as they were beaten 2-1 at Aston Villa. The U's were desperately unlucky not to get a result, taking an early lead through Ini Umotong and dominating for periods, before ultimately succumbing to goals from Katie Wilkinson and Bethan Merrick.
Despite defeat on Thursday evening, United impressed in large spells and manager Les Taylor opted to keep faith with the same starting XI for the trip north. Kat Nutman again took the captain's armband, while new girl Ini Umotong was chosen to lead the line, flanked by Lauren Allison and Laura Nichol, with Ella Franklin-Fraiture sitting in behind. At the back, Rosie Lane and Riva Casley continued their central partnership, while Katja Hakala and Jess Frampton took the full-back roles.
United started strongly and took the lead inside the first ten minutes. Umotong tested the keeper in the fifth minute with an effort from the edge of the area, but there was nothing the Villa stopper could about her next attempt. A long ball forward found Laura Nichol on the left flank, who laid inside for Umotong to strike from distance,the ball soaring through the goalkeeper's hands to nestle in the back of the net.
She could have doubled her tally moments later, seizing on some hesitant defending to force a one-on-one situation, but then snatched at her shot, which drifted harmlessly wide of the mark. And while United continued to dominate, the hosts remained threatening on their forays forward. Kerri Welsh missed a glorious opportunity to level the scores when a ball across goal found her unmarked at the back post, but she was unable to turn it goalwards.
However, it was Oxford who were the more potent attacking force throughout the opening half and they hit the woodwork twice in quick succession. First, Umotong clipped the crossbar with a delightful cross-cum-shot from wide on the right in the 25th minute and then Katja Hakala also struck the bar with a curling free-kick after Umotong had taken a boot to the face.
But five minutes from the break they were pegged back against the run of play. Katie Wilkinson's ambitious 30-yard lob caught goalkeeper Demi Lambourne off her line and although the U's stopper got her fingertips to the ball, she was unable to push it away from goal.
The home side pressed on after the break, subjecting the U's to some considerable pressure around the hour mark. But it wasn't until Jess Frampton was penalised for handling in the area that they were able to force a breakthrough. Lambourne did excellently to stop the resulting penalty from Katie Wilkinson, but Bethan Merrick was on hand to tap in the rebound.
United, exhausted from two gruelling games in the space of three days, fought bravely but were unable to force an equaliser.
United: Lambourne, Frampton, Haynes, Casley, Lane, Umotong, Nutman (Pickett 85), Allison, Franklin-Fraiture, Nichol (Timms 78), Hakala. Subs not used: Cox, Bruce, Deeley.