Oxford United U18s beat Cambridge United 2-1 away from home to continue their unbeaten start to the Merit League campaign this afternoon.
Aaron Lacey opened the scoring for the U's before Danny Tyler-Cowlin levelled for Cambridge in the second half. Leo Snowden came off the bench to win it for the U's with ten minutes to play.
With plenty of United’s scholars going out on loan on Thursday, United named a young side to take on Cambridge, with Rashane Maxwell stepping into the skipper role.
The young United side didn’t hesitate at the green light against the side in amber, Richard McIntyre’s dangerous left foot delivering two early set pieces, both met by the towering Lacey. The first, a free kick from the left nodded just wide, then a floated corner that the centre half just couldn’t get high enough to power home went over the bar off the top of his head in the 6th minute.
Cambridge came into the game, but United’s back four defended steadfastly.
McIntyre, who was excellent throughout, got in behind down the left after some superb work in the 23rd minute, and after he found Louis Griffiths, it looked like Nathan Bond was certain to score from his cut back. His strike was solid, but so too were the blocks from the amber shirts in the six-yard box.
Two minutes later and United made their own last-ditch challenge, Harrison Mole coming across to get a vital touch after some intricate football put Cambridge in behind.
United deserved a goal, and it came through a route which had been frightening Cambridge all half. McIntyre’s corner was met by Lacey for the fourth or fifth time, and in the 35th minute he made no mistake, thumping the ball home to give the U’s the lead.
The goal gave the U’s some hard earned confidence; two minutes later Griffiths almost scored the goal of the season, going on a mazy run past five Cambridge players, but just couldn’t get enough conviction on his finish to match the fantastic footwork, toe poking the ball wide of the post.
The home side were lucky not to go in two behind, this time Tobias Brenan’s effort following good work from Kasway Burton down the right, deflected off the post and into Arber Grosna’s grateful grasp. An excellent first half performance to send the boys into the dressing room a goal to the good.
There was still plenty of work to do, and Maxwell showed his worth as Captain, talking the younger members of the side through the game with clarity and confidence. The right back was forced to make an excellent headed clearance off the line thirty seconds after the restart.
Lacey almost had a second from another corner, but it was Cambridge who got the next goal through a bit of magic from Tyler-Cowlin. Just before the hour mark, he cut inside and found the top left corner to level the game.
The U’s reacted well, Burton almost regained the lead instantly, but saw his effort parried at the near post. Three minutes later and they had the ball in the net after Mole volleyed the second ball from a corner in, but the flag went up.
Snowden replaced Josh Iheanacho with twenty minutes to play, and the forward had an instant impact cutting inside and firing a strong effort towards the bottom corner, but well held by Grosna, and then after some great movement in the box seeing his effort go just wide.
Then, in the 77th minute, he got his goal. Good work from Burton and Brenan eventually found Griffiths in the box, whose effort struck the bottom of the post. Snowden was in the right place to tap home the rebound into an empty net to regain the United lead.
Griffiths and Burton made way for Josh Holton and Kyron Webb, and United settled the game down to see out the win, no thanks to a magnificent McIntyre tackle as Amary Kaunda tried to find an equaliser in injury time.
An excellent performance from a young side to make it seven points from three games in the Merit League.
LINEUP: Marriott, McIntyre, Lacey, Mole, Maxwell, Brenan, Barrett-Doyle, Bond, Iheanacho (Snowden 69), Burton (Webb 90), Griffiths (Holton 89)