United through to face Man City in third round
Chris Allen’s young guns did Oxford United proud tonight as they beat local rivals Swindon Town 3-2 to progress to the third round of the FA Youth Cup. A devastating first half saw two goals from Jordan Graham and a penalty from AJ George give the U’s a 3-0 lead at the break. A late goal from Callum McCormack and a second from Tommy Oulridge made it a tense finale but the U’s held firm to make it through to a third round tie away at Manchester City.
United took the game to the Robins and had the first shot of the night when the elusive Muctaru Conte jinked inside and tested visiting keeper Aaron Moody with a powerful rising shot. Swindon played some neat passing football in the opening minutes but hadn’t tested Jack Stevens in the United goal before Graham gave them the lead.
A swift break by Seth Humphries freed Freddie Grant on the left. He drifted past a defender and slipped the ball across for Graham. He guided it into the area and rode a weak challenge before slotting the ball calmly past keeper Aaron Moody.
The United players raced to celebrate together and then on 20 were dancing with delight across the Kassam Stadium pitch as George made it 2-0 from the spot. Another quick break saw George exchange passes with Graham and burst into the box. A touch took it past defender Ryan Wood who slid desperately forward to try and reach the ball but only succeeded in tripping George. You won’t see a more confident penalty than his rolled effort into the corner of the net.
Swindon were stung and it took a great save by Stevens to keep it at 2-0 on 25 as he dived full length to push a Jake Evans effort round the post. The visitors dominated possession for much of the first half without ever getting beyond the United back line, where centre halves Robbie Cundy and Alfie Grant crunched into tackle after tackle.
It had been an excellent first half and to cap it off there was the best goal of the night on 45 to demoralise Swindon and all but end the game as a competition. Again it was Conte’s mazy running that did the damage, tormenting left back Luke Matthews and then delivering a perfect cross for Graham, five yards out, to thump his header past Moody to make it 3-0 at the break.
The game seemed safe and United soaked up Swindon pressure for most of the second half while looking to hit on the break. Sub Josh Morgan-Williams had a chance to make it 4-0 but somehow missed an open goal, while Stevens made two good saves to keep the three-goal cushion.
There was drama in the closing stages though. First a cross from the left was converted by McCormack with seven minutes to go and then sub Oulridge made it 3-2 with five minutes to go and United tiring. Nails were bitten, lost causes were chased and it was just like a usual frantic Oxford v Swindon game.
Somehow United saw the game out, and they now head for Manchester and a chance to test themselves against City. Great to watch and a great result for the United young guns.
Stevens, Welch-Hayes, Cundy, A Grant, F Grant, Hayden, Humphries, Jeacock (Morgan-Williams 46), George, Conte, Graham (Hastings 64)
Subs not used: Whittington, McCormack, Cook