Alice Hughes scored a brace to help MK Dons Ladies secure a 3-1 win over Oxford United on Tuesday evening.
The Dons secured their first league win of the season with Hughes heading home twice, after Leah Cudone put her side ahead just four minutes into the game.
All of the goals in the match came in the first half, with the Dons having established a 3-0 lead by the 25th minute before the visitors reduced the deficit by one minutes later.
The second half saw the Dons submit a battling performance to hold on to their two-goal lead for the duration of the match, as Oxford United threw everything they had at trying to turn the game around.
Yet the Dons stood strong in order to pick up the three points and they now turn their attention to facing Queens Park Rangers on Sunday.
The Dons started the game in impressive style as it took them only a matter of minutes to go 1-0 ahead. Cudone was beautifully played through on goal and took one touch before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner from 25-yards-out.
Oxford United tried to instantly respond as they charged forward, but it was the Dons who would strike again in the 17th minute.
The Dons were awarded a free-kick just inside Oxford United’s half which Ellen Martin floated into the box for Alice Hughes to head home in order to double her side’s lead.
Vicky Holland then had an opportunity to make the Dons even more comfortable just a minute later, as the Dons were awarded a free-kick in a similar position, but this time Martin’s expert delivery wasn’t able to be turned in.
However the Dons did extend their lead moments later, as Martin was determined to help her side get a third goal one way or another. This time Martin played a short pass to Leanna Doyle from a corner kick who proceeded to whip in an inch-perfect cross for Hughes to head home in order to see the Dons lead 3-0.
After going three goals down Oxford United responded in defiant fashion, as they launched several dangerous attacks which saw the Dons’ defence tested, one of their efforts even rattled the woodwork.
Oxford United’ efforts paid off on the 31 minute mark as Kerry Walklett played in a scintillating cross that ended up getting deflected into the net in order to make the scoreline 3-1.
Aside from Doyle ambitiously trying her luck from distance, the rest of the first-half saw the Dons have to dig deep to spoil Oxford United’s desire to mount a successful comeback. Dons keeper Sophie Shults was even called into action just ahead of the half time whistle blowing in order to pull off a vital save.
The second half started in similar fashion to how the first half ended with Oxford United piling on the pressure in order to try and force a breakthrough.
Although it was the Dons who had the first real chance of the second half, as a determined Leah Littlechild refused to give up chasing a long pass forward and it nearly paid off, as her efforts nearly saw Cudone grab another.
From there, the Dons banded together as a team and battled hard, in order to hold onto their victory with Shults aiding their cause by making several important saves in the process.
Speaking after the game James Honeyman was thrilled over the Dons’ performance and heaped praise on their ability to see out the game plan.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic to get the three points against another top side. We did our work early and then we were resilient,” stated Honeyman.
“We set a game play, we stuck to it and we got the result we deserved. We still have loads to learn but I couldn’t be prouder of a dedicated resilient group who we couldn’t ask more.”
Starting XI: Shults, Doyle (c), Clarke, Holland, Naylor, Burgess, Hughes, Martin (Bright 43), Newman (Boote 70), Littlechild (Gough 81), Cudone.
Unused Subs: Kirby
Goals: Cudone (4), Hughes (17, 25).