Oxford United Women fell to their second successive home defeat this evening as they went down 3-1 to Milton Keynes Dons, who were three up within 25 minutes. United clawed a goal back through an own goal but were unable to make their second-half dominance count against the massed Dons defence.
Oxford were much changed from the side that lost against Watford on Saturday, with a debut for new signing Cat Beaver bringing some much-needed experience to the young U's side. There were also recalls for Kerry Walklett, Lena Stroem and Lois Colley.
It was a bad start for United, who had looked confident in the early stages but found themselves a goal down after just five minutes when Leah Cudone was left alone on the edge of the area and her shot gave Lucy Thomas no chance. It got worse in the 18th minute when Alice Hughes' header from a free kick looped over Thomas and dropped into the net.
Hughes was in the right place at the right time seven minutes later as she again beat Thomas with a header, this time from a right-wing corner. Three down after a quarter of the game gave the U's a mountain to climb. They almost clawed a goal back just a couple of minutes later when Ellie Noble's left-wing corner went over everyone in the crowded area and came back off the far post.
United pulled a goal back after half an hour when Walklett got down the right and sent over a low cross that Mollie Burgess sliced past Shults into her own goal to give the Yellows hope of an unlikely comeback. In the lengthy first-half stoppage time Noble again forced Shults into action with a long-range piledriver that the Dons keeper did well to push away from danger.
Thomas had to be alert at the start of the second period as Cudone was set free in the area but the United goalkeeper made herself big to keep the ball out. Noble then fired a free kick over the wall but straight into Shults's arms as the visitors sat back and invited Oxford to try to break them down. On those occasions when United were able to get past the massed ranks of white they found Shults stopping everything, while Sophie Baker had a shot go just wide and Laura Hennessey went close with a header.
However, despite all their pressure and possession Oxford couldn't get the goal that their approach play deserved and it was Milton Keynes Dons that went home with the points.
United: Thomas, Roberts, Haynes, Allen, Noble, Timms (Bent 58), Baker, Walklett, Stroem (Hennessey 58), Colley (Robertson 68), Beaver