C&K Basildon Ladies were left to rue missed chances as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Cambridge United Ladies at the first hurdle of the FA Women’s National League Cup.

The visitors, who went into the clash having been condemned to back-to-back reverses, started brightly.

New signing Courtney Clarke linked up well with fellow striker Ella Tooley as C&K Basildon caused the home defence early problems.

Tooley came close to grabbing the opener as she latched onto a fine through ball from Gemma Abella, but Tooley’s 30 yard lob over the goalkeeper struck the base of the post and fell to safety.

Clarke was then denied her first goal in C&K Basildon colours twice and the saves were to prove crucial as Cambridge’s Kelly Blanchflower opened the scoring midway through the first half.

In response, Abella curled a shot just wide of the post, but the away side went in at the break with it all to do in the second half.

C&K Basildon goalkeeper Chelsea Hinz did well to block a Blanchflower shot when she was through on goal soon after the interval.

But Cambridge doubled their lead when Kayleigh-Anne Burt headed in from a corner.

Despite the setback, C&K Basildon started to enjoy more possession and put the Cambridge defence under pressure.

Clarke was frustrated by the feet of the goalkeeper as she threatened to break through and captain Alex Bailess then sent a shot wide of the post.

In the closing minutes, Sophie Rhodes hit a thunderous shot from 30 yards only to see it strike the upright.