Oxford United’s under 18s continued their impressive start to the season with a 6-2 win at Portsmouth in the EFL Youth Alliance on Saturday.
Two goals from winger Will Owens and further strikes from Adam Smith, Callum Crook and Jack Gardner, plus an own goal, saw the U’s run out winners in a weather affected encounter on the south coast as Leon Blackmore-Such told us:
“Because we’d played Portsmouth on the Tuesday in the cup you knew that it would motivate the home side and we knew we would have to raise our levels again because I didn’t think we were at our best in the first game. But I walked over to the warm up just before they started; with no dressing room that’s the only time I usually speak to them and this time I could just see they were ready so I didn’t really even speak to them because you could see they were switched on already.
With 40 mile an hour wind and rain hammering down it was hard to be playing against that in the first half. Josh Anifowose came back in after being involved with the First Team the weekend before and he and Mac Masters did well in midfield with Jack Gardner while Will and Adam were lively on the wings. We tried to play, even in those conditions, and scored first when Will came in off the right- we switched the wingers over for this game- and his shot was deflected past the keeper for 1-0.
Portsmouth were quite direct with the wind behind them and a ball came out to them about 35 yards out and their lad just hit it, it flew off one of his own players and Eddie Brearey had no chance. So 1-1 and sometimes you just can’t stop a goal like that, just move on
We reacted well and made it 2-1 through a great move which began with the keeper and saw us play all the way through until Jack played a one-two with Josh and slid it past the keeper. That was a pleasing goal from the coach’s point of view. The third came when Josh put the ball out wide and Adam showed what he can do in one v one situations, blasting past the defender and slipping the ball past the keeper for 3-1.
Just before half time one of their lads got sent off for dissent and knowing we would have the wind behind us against ten men we hoped we would be in control, but told the lads to make sure they concentrated and didn’t get caught out.
We scored within five minutes of the restart when Callum lifted the ball over the keeper and that should have taken the sting out of the game but Portsmouth sat in and then broke out and won a penalty to make it 4-2. But we were still dominating and Will made it 5-2 with a strike that flew over the keeper’s head; he’ll say it was a shot but it never was! Then we put pressure on their centre-half who passed back to the keeper who was coming out to meet him and that own goal made it 6-2.
It was nice to win like that especially against a side who could have gone above us if they won. The lads found energy and resilience and as much as we always want them to find ways to keep pushing and improving this was a very impressive performance.
Brearey, Grant, Nosokhare, Golding, Johnson, Anifowose (Coe), Masters (Tiamuna), Gardner. Smith, Crook (O’Donkor), Owens