Oxford United U18s lost 2-1 to Sutton United this afternoon in the Merit League.
Sutton opened the scoring through Cameron Grant and United levelled quickly through Leo Snowden, but went into the break behind after an Oliver Khinder free kick gave Sutton the advantage.
It was a fast start to the game in the spring sunshine at the VBS Community Stadium. Sutton scored within two minutes when Tobias Brenan failed to clear, and Grant fired home on the half volley.
The U’s responded instantly, however, when Jacob Fowler’s corner eventually fell to Snowden, who struck low through the bodies to level in the fifth minute.
United started to attack in numbers and had two close efforts just after the quarter hour mark and were unlucky not to find the lead.
First, skipper George Franklin, returning to the side after an injury that saw him miss the FA Youth Cup quarter final against Manchester City, flicked the ball cleverly goalward from a short free kick, but Sutton got bodies in the way to block.
From the resulting corner, Louis Griffiths, who tomorrow joins Wales U16s for their UEFA Development Tournament fixtures, adjusted his body superbly and floated his half volley onto the crossbar from the edge of the box.
It was Sutton who found the next goal, though, when they were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. Khinder stepped up and fired the ball into the top right corner in the 36th minute.
Behind at the break, perhaps undeservedly so, and plenty to fight for in the second half.
Sutton made it very difficult for United to play, going direct at every opportunity and sitting deep. Coach Chris Hackett tried to change things in the 63rd minute as Josh Iheanacho replaced U's goalscorer Snowden.
As the game got bittier, it got more and more heated. That culminated in the 69th minute when Matthew Nwanekezi was sent off for the home side after a really nasty elbow on Richard McIntyre.
Franklin and Griffiths made way for Harrison Mole and Josh Holton, but, ultimately, a mixture of lack of creativity from Oxford and gamesmanship from the home side, meant United couldn't find a way back into the game and fell to a 2-1 defeat.
LINEUP: Marriott, Maxwell, Franklin (Mole 72), Lacey, McIntyre, Brenan, Took-Oxley, Fowler, Burton, Snowden (Iheanacho 63), Griffiths (Holton 80)