Under-18s leave it late to gain hard-fought victoryA last-minute goal from centre-half Cian McCormack earned Oxford United under-18s a fifth successive victory as they overcame difficult opponents in the shape of Northampton Town in Merit League B on Saturday morning.
The visitors started brightly and dominated much of the opening half hour, with United keeper Jack Stevens forced into two good saves to preserve his clean sheet. It wasn't until the 29th minute that Oxford forced Stevens' opposite number into action, when he reacted well to save from a Luke Hastings shot following a good run and cross from George Jeacock.
Ten minutes later Jeacock almost broke the deadlock when Seth Humphries played him through with just the keeper to beat, but the Northampton stopper again saved well to deny the U's striker. On the stroke of half-time Dejon Noel-Williams had an angled drive go inches past the far post.
Oxford survived a scare ten minutes into the second half when Northampton had a shot hit the outside of the post but most of the second period was played in the visitors half.
It looked like Oxford would have to settle for a point when Humphries shot whistled over the bar with two minutes remaining but a minute later United made the breakthrough. Jeacock's near-post corner led to a scramble which ended when McCormack blasted gleefully into the roof of the net to earn a hard-fought victory.
Coach Leon Blackmore-Such said afterwards: "We didn't start too well. Maybe the boys were a bit complacent after recent good results. Their big test will come a week on Tuesday when they play MK Dons at home in what could be a title decider."
United: Stevens, Diaz-Benitez, Ricketts, McCormack, Hawtin, Hartley (Bryan), Humphries, Hayden, Hastings, Jeacock, Noel-Williams (Baptiste)