United lose 5-0 to promoted Bristol City
United's FA Women's Super League 2 season came to a disappointing end with a 5-0 defeat at home to promoted Bristol City. The U's trailed 4-0 at the break to goals from Claire Emslie (2), Millie Farrow and an own goal. And although Oxford improved after the break, they could not prevent Farrow netting a fifth late on.
The U's made two changes to the side which travelled to Sheffield the previous week, with Jess Frampton and Riva Casley coming into the back line and Ella Franklin-Fraiture and Charlie Deeley dropping to the bench. They were joined by teenage defender Zoe Chung, who earned her first call-up to the senior side after a string of impressive displays for the United development squad.
The visitors came to the Northcourt needing to win by a big margin to snatch the league title from Yeovil's grasp and they took the lead with 12 minutes played when Claire Emslie was granted space on the edge of the area, cutting onto her right foot before unleashing a low strike into the bottom corner.
She could have doubled the lead immediately afterwards with a powerful effort from the edge of the area, but goalkeeper Demi Lambourne got down well to beat it away from danger. However, Bristol would get their second with just over half an hour played and it came in scrappy fashion. United failed to deal with a looping ball to the back post and and Lambourne reacted late to push the ball into her own net.
Just moments later it was three as Jodie Brett raced away up the right flank before picking out the unmarked Emslie to nod in at the back post. Matters got worse four minutes into first-half stoppage time as Bristol added a fourth when Emslie crossed for Millie Farrow to head home at close range.
After a damaging first half, United settled in the second and restricted the visitors' chances. When substitute Olivia Fergusson was given a glimpse of goal after being left unmarked at the back post, she was unable to turn it in from close range. At the other end, United's best chance of the match fell to top scorer Ini Umotong when Bristol goalkeeper Caitlin Leach was caught in possession, but the striker was unable to scramble a shot off and when she eventually recycled it to captain Kat Nutman, her effort was blocked.
The visitors got their fifth goal seven minutes from time when Farrow was given free rein to arrow through the centre of the Oxford defence before burying a shot into the top corner.
The defeat marked a disappointing way to close the season, but United's young side have benefited hugely from the experience and have a strong foundation to build on next year.
United: Lambourne, Frampton, Haynes (Baker 59), Casley, Lane, Umotong, Nutman, Pickett, Hakala, Lee (Franklin-Fraiture 69), Timms
Report by Matt Bruce