Oxford United U18s were defeated 5-1 by Luton Town in the Merit League this morning.
Luton put four past Oxford in the first 45, with Leo Snowden pulling one back on the stroke of half time. The Hatters then made it five just before the hour mark.
The U’s switched to three at the back, with Zaide Took-Oxley dropping in between Harrison Mole and Aaron Lacey, and soaked up the early Luton pressure well.
Just before 20 had been played, Louis Griffiths (who has just been called up to the Welsh U16 side) played a one-two with Snowden, whose backheel found Griffiths on the edge; he curled his strike goalward but it was beaten away by Sam Bentley in the Luton net.
Monty Marriott made a superb diving save to his right to prevent a Jack Lorentzen-Jones effort from nestling in the top corner but could do nothing about Josh Phillips’ strike minutes later. Millar Matthew-Lewis drove to the by-line and cut it back to the striker who finished to give Luton the lead in the 25th minute.
Jacob Fowler bent an effort wide of the left post but it was Luton who scored next. United failed to clear a wide free kick and Lorentzen-Jones picked up the ball in the area and curled one into the top-right corner in the 38th minute.
The Hatters then sunk United before the half-time whistle. Jacob Vickers headed a looping effort over Marriott for three in the 41st minute, before Matthew-Lewis arrived at the back post to tap home unmarked two minutes later.
Snowden did give United a glimmer of hope, scoring with the last action of the half to pull one back for the young Us. The striker won the ball back through determination and kept his head to slot home before the referee blew the whistle to bring a tough 45 to an end.
It was a very young United side, comprising Under 16s who faced a Luton side with a lot of second-year scholars.
Phillips added his second of the game in the 58th minute, powering the ball into the top of the net before Calum Barrett-Doyle replaced Fowler on the hour mark.
Griffiths and Snowden, both Under 15s, did well playing up the age groups and showed bright moments. In the 63rd, clever feet from Griffiths earned him a yard of space to deliver and Snowden adjusted his feet well but could only volley over the bar.
Josh Holton and Josh Iheanacho replaced Snowden and Griffiths before the full-time whistle marked an improved second half for Oxford.
A tough day at the office for the U's against a strong Luton side. They now look ahead to Plymouth Argyle at home in a week's time.
LINEUP: Marriott, McIntyre, Mole, Took-Oxley, Lacey, Maxwell, Brenan, Fowler (Barrett-Doyle 61), Burton, Snowden (Holton 76), Griffiths (Iheanacho 87)