Roberts goal gives United a win
- United win third pre-season game
- James Roberts scores second goal in pre-season
Oxford United's encouraging start to pre-season continued with a 1-0 win at Didcot Town this afternoon. Young striker James Roberts was the matchwinner with another neat finish as The U's gave every player match time at a sweltering Loop Meadow.
As promised, Michael Appleton rotated his squad to give the players who had played less at Oxford City on Tuesday night an hour in this game, effectively reversing the two teams on the hour mark.
The first half saw Max Crocombe in goal, with David Hunt and Jon Meades in the full-back positions, either side of Sam long and Jake Wright. United have had a 4-2-3-1 shape in each game so far and for this game Josh Ashby and Josh Ruffels sat deep as the two to allow Ty Marsh, Callum O’Dowda and Sam Humphreys to join lone striker Roberts.
Meades, on his first appearance for a year, looked assured while O’Dowda in his first game of pre-season had the first two chances of the afternoon as United opened brightly. Ty Marsh almost found the breakthrough half way through the first half when Ashby split the defence with a superb pass but it also took two good saves from Max Crocombe to keep it at 0-0 as Ryan Brooks and Luke Carnell threatened for the home side.
Ruffels, another playing his first game, saw a shot well saved by the flying Foster and Humphreys was just beaten by the keeper in a race to the ball just before the break but the youthful U’s had dominated possession in that first half even if they hadn’t found a way through.
Roberts has been a prolific scorer for the last two years in the youth and development sides and on 55 minutes underlined his potential with another clinical finish. Picking up the ball on the edge of the area he did enough to gain just a yard of space and then despatched a fine shot into the bottom right corner of the net, giving Foster no chance.
The young striker also forced the over-worked Foster into another save and fired a further effort over the top before United changed all ten players on the hour to give everyone match sharpness.
The change almost brought instant results as Alfie Potter surged forward and forced a save out of Didcot sub keeper Alex Williams who was relieved to see Luke carnell head Josh Shama’s follow up off the line.
The energy of Shama and Aidan Hawtin caught the eye in the last half hour as a spirited Didcot side started to tire. Hylton side footed a chance wide and Crocombe - still to be beaten in pre-season- made one smart save from Brooks, but irrespective of the result this was another very good warm up played in the right spirit from both sides.
United now head for Bisham Abbey before a Development Squad game at Abingdon Town on Thursday and then the first home pre-season game where they step things up with a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Call 01865 337533
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United:21 Crocombe, 13 Hunt 22 Long, 6 Wright, 2 Meades, 24 Ashby 14 Ruffels 15 O'Dowda 20 Marsh 26 Humphreys 18 J Roberts
21 Crocombe 17 Bevans 4 Raynes 5 Mullins 3 Newey 19 Collins 7 Rose 11 Potter 10 Hylton 23 Shama 27 Hawtin
sub not used: 1 L Roberts