Oxford United U18s continued their unbeaten start to Merit League One as Josh Anifowose's first-half strike gave the young U's a fantastic 1-0 win away at Portsmouth.
Another young-look U18s side took to the field against Pompey, with Viktor Milton returning to the squad following North Leigh’s postponed game, while Tyler Goodrham retained the captain’s armband.
United controlled the game early on, with Sam Johnson working an early chance for Elijah Coe who brought the ball down well in the area before being called offside. This set the tempo and United continued to push a strong Portsmouth side as Josh Anifowose flashed a shot wide before flicking a header just past the post as the youngster looked to break the deadlock.
Portsmouth came forward in spells but were limited to shots from outside the area as United stood strong defensively. United's opportunities came on the break and Oxford made the first mark on 24 minutes. The impressive Anifowose was alert in the area and, although slicing his effort, the strike found its way into the bottom corner to give the U’s a deserved lead.
Damien Niemczycki was called into action for the first time on 38 minutes as he flew to his right to tip over a curling effort from the edge of the area, but on the whole, United were comfortable going into half time and eager for more.
United were quick off the blocks in the second half and U18s top scorer Callum Crook had an opportunity to double the lead five minutes in. Coe threaded a lovely pass into Crook's path, but the striker’s shot was beaten away by the Portsmouth goalkeeper.
Goodrham and Ferguson combined well on the hour mark as the latter found space in the area, but the forward’s effort was blocked as Portsmouth recovered well to halt the attack. On came centre-back Clinton Nosakhare and Adam Smith as United freshened things up in attack and defence, while U15 George Franklin came on with 20 minutes left.
The game became more open but still United defended well; the closest Portsmouth came was called offside, with Niemczycki sharp off his line to avert the danger otherwise. Smith went close as he latched onto a fantastic cross by Ferguson but he couldn’t turn the ball in on the volley. Portsmouth came mightily close to an equaliser as a shot from the edge of the box crashed against the underside of the bar and away, but United stood strong as Portsmouth piled on the pressure giving the U's defence plenty to think about.
There was no way through for Portsmouth though, and the U's secured another fantastic result to remain unbeaten in Merit League One.
UNITED: Niemczycki, Grant, Johnson, Gardner, Milton, Trialist (Nosakhare), Goodrham (c), Coe (Franklin), Crook (Smith), Anifowose (Owens), Ferguson