Oxford United's Under 18s enjoyed a night to remember at the Kassam Stadium as two goals from Gatlin O'Donkor helped them beat Cardiff City 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup.
After going behind inside three minutes, United stormed back in the second half and, after Rashane Maxwell had levelled, O'Donkor added to his fast-growing reputation to send them through to the fifth round for the first time in the club's history.
United got off to the worst possible start by conceding inside three minutes. Right back Will Spiers settled any early Bluebird nerves with a fine strike from 20 yards out that flew past Fraser Barnsley to give the visitors the perfect start.
United, refusing to crumble on the bigger stage, and with O’Donkor and Josh Johnson starting after playing against Arsenal for the first team the previous night, grew into the game from then on, the superb O’Donkor leading the line with power and guile and Johnson tireless in midfield.
The non-stop Aidan Elliott-Wheeler had a penalty appeal waved away and also planted a free kick over the bar, Enrique Tiamuna began to cause problems on the left, and the game became enjoyably end to end; the brilliant Barnsley making a couple of timely interceptions to keep his side in it at just a goal down at the break.
Within six minutes of the restart United were in front.
First, left-back Maxwell steadied the ship with an excellent goal to level the scores at 1-1. Johnson created it with a fine pass out to the flank where Maxwell took it down and then poked the ball past advancing Cardiff keeper Jake Dennis for a terrific equaliser.
It was soon eclipsed though when O'Donkor lit up the Kassam Stadium with a stunning strike. There looked to be little danger, but O'Donkor turned on the edge of the box and let fly without a moment's hesitation, the ball flashing past Dennis for a magnificent goal to make it 2-1.
Now Cardiff threw men forward and Barnsley made a superb save to keep his side in the lead, but on 73 O'Donkor sent the U's through with his second of the night. Having chased a long ball, O'Donkor forced keeper Dennis to take a step too far to try to beat him to the ball. Dennis dallied, O'Donkor was a menace, and when the keeper lost the ball O'Donkor rolled it into the vacant net and United were 3-1 up.
Those who like this sort of stat should note that the new scoreboard at the Fence End has now seen seven goals in two games, all at that end, and that for the second night in a row, the side kicking towards it had been unstoppable in the second half.
A night these young players will never forget and a wonderful game of football between two totally committed teams.
Congratulations to all involved, can't wait for the next round...
Barnsley, Sankoh, Franklin, Zabeli, Maxwell, Took-Oxley, Brenan, Johnson, Elliott-Wheeler, O'Donkor, Tiamuna
Subs: Mole, Burton, Iheanacho, Lacey, Fowler, Marriott
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Darrell Fisher and Steve Edmunds