DURHAM manager Lee Sanders admitted his side were left hurting after Oxford United secured their maiden WSL victory and leapfrogged his side at the bottom of the table thanks to a controversial winner at New Ferens Park.

The Wildcats had taken a 21st minute lead through new signing Emily Scott when she drilled Rosie Young’s cross into the roof of the net, but Oxford hit back five minutes before the break with a 40-yard pile-driver from Kayleigh Hines.

The game looked to be heading for a draw as the clock ticked down, but with six minutes remaining the visitors were awarded a controversial winner.

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Jenna Connor-Iommi whipped in a corner from the left that was cleared off the line by Durham substitute Becky Hanratty, but after Oxford appeals the linesman awarded the goal to the hosts’ dismay.

“The referee’s explanation was that it wasn’t her fault,” Sanders said. “It was the linesman’s call. He didn’t give the goal and then he changed his mind. He has said he hesitating himself, I think if you’re not sure you can’t give it.

“The players are saying it wasn’t anywhere near the line, it just got cleared from the corner. We’ve hit the bar just before and then that happens.

“It hurts, because it was a big game and a big game for both teams. If we win we go mid table, if Oxford win they go above us and we go bottom.

“It’s a big call. Fair enough if he’s says he is sure, but even afterwards he said he wasn’t sure.”

The result leaves Durham bottom of WSL 2 going into a Continental Cup double header against WSL 1 sides Liverpool and Manchester City in the next fortnight.

Durham: Hill, Linsley, Wilson, Dixon, King; Wilson, Hepple, Jennings (Christon, 67), Jordinson (Hanratty, 81); Young, Scott, Round (Hardy, 46).

Subs: Stonehouse, Atkinson.

Oxford: Lambourne, Connor-Iommi, Lane, Osbourne-Rickets, Chivers; Nutman, Hines, King (Fellows 77); Stanley (Caswell, 63), Allison, Low (Alexander, 59).

Subs: Cox, Franklin-Fraiture.

Referee: Helen Conley

Attendance: 200