Young midfielder happy with his first start
There were plenty of smiles from Oxford United’s newest debutant as Josh Ashby made his senior bow on Saturday. The 18-year-old, Oxford born and bred, has waited patiently for his chance after starring in the middle of the park for the youth and development sides, but was given his chance by Michael Appleton as the U’s drew 2-2 with Exeter city on Saturday.
“I loved it,” Josh told Yellow Player after the game. “Obviously I didn’t find out I was playing until relatively late in the day, just a few hours before the game, so I didn’t have too much time to think about it. I was a little bit surprised because I wasn’t at all nervous before the game and I’m not sure why that was. But from the moment I got out on the pitch I was enjoying it.“
The U’s had no fewer than seven young local players on first team duty on Saturday: Josh, Callum O’Dowda, Sam Long, James Roberts, Max Crocombe, Sam Humphreys and Josh Ruffels. It took a dramatic late equaliser from Roberts to get United a point but having played alongside him for the last four years Ashby knows all about the striker’s quality:
“I always had confidence in us to grab another goal and in the end Robbo came up with the equaliser. He’s such a good goalscorer so I wasn’t that surprised to see him finish that chance,” he said. “We definitely deserved the point, maybe the three, but we got something out of the game and now we have to push on from here and get some more points on the board.”
Typically humble despite a hugely encouraging first start, Josh was quick to praise the senior players who helped him through that debut day:
“All of them were great,” he told us, “especially before the game where they had a quiet word here and there and just told me to get on the ball and play my own game. That really helped. I maybe would have liked to get on it a little bit more but overall I was pleased with how it went. Now I’ll just look to keep working hard and hopefully get further chances in the first team.”
See the full interview, plus the thoughts of James Roberts and new signing Joe Skarz, in Yellow Player right now.