OXFORD United slipped to their second successive Women’s Super League defeat in cruel fashion as a deadly second-half display from title favourites Doncaster Rovers Belles saw the U’s go down to a 4-1 defeat on Saturday.
United were impressive in the opening half of the game and took the lead through captain Sahara Osborne-Ricketts.
But a controversial equaliser on the stroke of half-time set the stage for what was to come next as a revitalised Belles ran away with it, scoring three more times to put the match beyond the visitors in WSL 2.
United, who lost 3-0 to London Bees in their opening match, soon began to control the flow of the game, Osborne-Ricketts rattling the crossbar with one early free-kick.
The hosts had gone close through Millie Bright and Jess Sigsworth, but were stunned when United’s captain prodded home in the 41st minute to give her side the lead.
However, Doncaster levelled controversially just before the break.
An attempted clearance from Rosie Lane looped towards U’s keeper Demi Lambourne, who collected, only for referee Mark Dwyer to signal a free-kick for a backpass.
Lauren Cresswell fired the resulting free-kick into the roof of the net.
Doncaster went ahead when Cresswell fired in a 30-yard free-kick on 63 minutes.
And it was all over when Reanne Thomas made it 3-1 on 69 minutes and Ashleigh Mills hit No 4 two minutes later.
Oxford Utd: Lambourne (Cox 50), Mobbs, Chivers, Connor-Iommi, Lane, Osborne-Ricketts (Franklin-Fraiture 73), Hines, Stanley, King, Low (Pinker 83), Allison. Subs not used: Boxall, Pickett, Fellows. Attendance: 124.