Oxford United U18s cruised to a 5-0 victory against Forest Green Rovers in the Youth Alliance League this afternoon.
Enrique Tiamuna scored a first-half hattrick, with goals from Gatlin O'Donkor and Max Smith putting the U's five goals ahead at the break.
O’Donkor picked up where he left off in the Youth Cup on Wednesday night, spinning defenders for fun with just over 60 seconds played and thundering his half volley inches over the bar from the edge of the box, a bad omen for the fluorescent-green back line of the home side.
It took only nine minutes for United to find the lead, and unsurprisingly it was O’Donkor and Tiamuna causing the problems. Josh Johnson picked up a loose ball and switched excellently to Kasway Burton. The winger threw in a step over and found O'Donkor's feet in the box. He spun, struck and forced a save from the FGR keeper and Tiamuna was on hand to tap home the rebound to give the U’s the advantage.
Tiamuna should’ve had a second in the 21st minute when O’Donkor beat his full back and picked a perfect cross to the back post, where the winger headed over. He didn’t rue the chance for too long, though, as a minute later he doubled the U’s lead, latching on to a pull back and smashing the ball into the far top corner off the post.
Four minutes later, the ball was in the back of the FGR net again. Smith, the tallest among the forest of bodies attacking Jacob Fowler’s corner, nodded the ball back across the keeper for three. A simple goal, but one that earned a big applause from all in Yellow; Max’s first goal after recovering from a nasty ACL injury earlier this year in only his second start since.
It quickly became a slaughtering, as the U’s fourth and fifth of the half came back to back. O'Donkor's strength and skill was just too much; in the 39th minute he outdid his marker and squared for Tiamuna to tap home his hattrick, before he got one of his own as Fowler led the U’s press from the restart, allowing O’Donkor to pinch the ball and score United’s fifth to go into the break well in control.
The U's made a host of subs at the break, Aidan Elliott-Wheeler, Tobias Brenan, Erion Zabeli, Rashane Maxwell and Josh Iheanacho replacing Tiamuna, Johnson, George Franklin, Ibby Sankoh and O'Donkor.
The second half was a different story, with United struggling to create clear chances. The home side also made some changes at the break and had more about them. They created their best chance on the hour mark, drilling a ball across the box and flicking the effort just wide.
Forest Green, who sit bottom of the South West Division, frustrated the U's in the reverse fixture, drawing 3-3, but this was a much more professional performance. Although not creating much in the second half, controlling the game and seeing out the victory.
With 15 minutes to go, Zabeli made an excellent block to keep the clean sheet intact with the goal wide open.
Three wins in a row and back-to-back clean sheets for the young U's, who now face Cheltenham on Tuesday in the final game of the Youth Alliance League.
LINEUP: Marriott, Sankoh (Maxwell 45), Franklin (Zabeli 45), Smith, McIntyre, Johnson (Brenan 45), Fowler, Barrett-Doyle, Tiamuna (Elliott-Wheeler 45), O'Donkor (Iheanacho 45), Burton