Oxford United U18s continued their good form with a 4-0 home win over Cheltenham Town in the Youth Alliance League this morning thanks to a Callum Crook double and strikes from Fabio Lopes and Leon Chambers-Parillon.
United started the game brightly, looking comfortable on the ball and pressing the visitors well when out of possession. Nico Jones, who has formed a strong partnership with fellow centre half Viktor Milton in recent weeks, was composed on the ball as he looked to pick diagonal passes towards United’s wide midfielders
Cheltenham fired a warning shot with a header that was gathered well by Max Evans but United remained patient as they looked to make a breakthrough.
Lopes looked lively again on the wing as he sent in a dangerous delivery narrowly avoiding the onrushing Tyler Goodrham from wide right as United increased their tempo. The youngsters’ patience was rewarded on 14 as Goodrham danced between two defenders before playing in Chambers-Parillon on the edge of the area. The midfielder – who has found a goalscoring touch in recent weeks – took a good touch and fired in a low shot from 20 yards to give United the lead.
United had barely caught their breath before they grabbed the second of the game. Goodrham showed good pace to beat the Cheltenham fullback and sent in a terrific delivery towards Lopes who powered in a header from 16 yards to double the U’s advantage.
The young U's had their tails up and were playing with every bit of confidence as they continued to come forward and control possession. United grabbed the third of the game on 33’ when Jones found his way down the left wing before sending in a troubling delivery for the Cheltenham goalkeeper who spilled the effort. Alert in the area, top scorer Crook stole the ball ahead of his marker and fired into the roof of the net to put United firmly in control.
United continued where they left off in the first half. The youngsters earned a freekick ten minutes into the second half and new scholar Connor Ferguson forced a good save from the goalkeeper as the U’s maintained their tempo in all areas of the pitch.
Right-back Trey Grant put in a good shift at right back and earned a penalty for the U’s on 56’; Crook stepped up to the spot and made no mistake from 12 yards putting the ball out of reach of the goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner for his second of the game.
United were caught on the break shortly after but keeper Evans came out quickly and saved well, flying to his left to push the ball away.
Jack Gardner came on to replace Ferguson who did well on the afternoon whilst Goodrham and Grant made way for Jordan Edwards and Keanu Barnett-Grant. United continued to control proceedings and saw out the final minutes professionally to register another strong performance in the Youth Alliance League and continue their strong form.
UNITED: Evans, Grant (Barnett-Grant), Johnson, Sole, Milton, Jones, Goodrham (Edwards), Lopes, Crook, Chambers-Parillon, Ferguson (Gardner)
Unused subs: Niemczycki
Report by Liam Potter