Young U's go out of FA Youth Cup with heads held high
Oxford United's under 18s went out of the FA Youth Cup, but with their heads held high after a 2-0 defeat at Manchester City tonight. The first game at the magnificent new City Academy saw a first half goal from Marcus Wood and a stoppage time second from Bersant Celina decide a tie that saw the U's fight for everything despite City dominating long periods of the game.
Having more than held their own in the first quarter of the game the U’s went behind on 26 when the lively Aaron Nemane powered down the right and crossed low for midfielder Marcus Wood to slam a sidefooted effort past keeper Jack Stevens. As you would expect against a side of this calibre United had to defend well and work hard but they did almost find a way through when AJ George was only denied by a brave save from home keeper Charlie Albinson. City had undeniably dominated the first half but the back line of Miles Welch-Hayes, Robbie Cundy, Cian McCormack and Freddie Grant looked solid enough and when needed keeper Stevens was on hand to make three good saves before the break to keep it at 1-0.
Perhaps a little intimidated by the fantastic new Academy Stadium in that first 45 minutes United settled much better after the break and might have drawn level when Grant twisted to poke a volley at goal only for keeper Charlie Albinson to push it round the post.
Seth Humphries, who had driven a 25-yard shot a yard too high in the opening period and Lewis Hayden began to get on the ball far more in the second half while wide men George Jeacock and Muctaru Conte stretched the game.
City continued to create the majority of chances, Stevens making at least four good saves and the eye-catching Celina pulling the strings for City. Stevens’ best save came when he turned in mid-air to save a Javairo Dilrosum effort on 75 and the young keeper also needed strong hands to push an 87th blast from the same player to safety.
No shame in defeat. City were the better side, no question, and Celina's clever finish on 92 underlined that, but what a fantastic experience for the United youngsters who simply refused to lie down. Great spirit. The future looks very bright indeed.
Stevens, Welch-Hayes, F Grant (Tuttle 80), Hayden (c), Cundy, McCormack, Humphries (Diaz-Benitez 70), George, Jeacock, Graham, Conte (Morgan-Williams 60)