United's under-18s beat Swindon 2-1 to lift Merit League 2 titleOxford United's under-18s came from a goal down to beat Swindon Town 2-1 and thereby become the Merit League 2 champions at Northcourt Road this afternoon. After going a goal down to a penalty in the 12th minute, Oxford rallied strongly and Seth Humphries equalised before the break before an own goal 15 minutes from time earned victory for the U's.
United started strongly with George Jeacock having two good chances in the first five minutes before Swindon caught Oxford on the break. Canice Carroll, a rock at the back for the U's, slipped on the wet surface and Swindon took advantage, their striker charging into the area where he was tripped by Cian McCormack. The resultant penalty was scored to give the visitors the lead.
Jack Stevens was called upon to make a good save just before the half-hour mark but that was a rare Swindon attack as United took the game to the opposition. Jeacock was released by Humphries two minutes later but was unable to keep his shot down before an error from the Swindon goalkeeper gave captain Lewis Hayden the chance to burst into the area, but the stopper atoned for his earlier error and pulled off a good save to deny the Oxford skipper.
With four minutes to go to the interval Oxford got the break that their attacking play deserved. The Swindon keeper dallied on the ball allowing Jeacock the chance to close him down and block his clearance. The ball fell nicely for Humphries who made no mistake from ten yards.
United started the second half as strongly as they did the first and within the first two minutes Jeacock ran down the left wing and sent in a near post cross that the keeper turned behind with Jordan Graham waiting to pounce. A few minutes later the goalie again saved well from Jeacock after he ran into the box and got his shot away. United came even closer with 20 minutes remaining as Graham sent in an inviting cross that was inches ahead of Jeacock but which fell nicely for Graham Bryan, but his shot came back off the post.
The pressure from the Yellows was relentless and it paid off in the 76th minute. Humphries was again heavily involved as he crossed from the right. The ball was making its way to Jeacock but the Swindon substitute diverted it past his own keeper to put Oxford within sight of the league title.
The Swindon keeper may have been at fault for United's first goal, but he performed heroics to keep the U's out, in particular winning his personal battle against Jeacock with a string of good saves. He bettered these in stoppage time with an incredible double save to deny first Charlie Hawtin and then Graham, but his efforts weren't enough to prevent victory for the U's, who are worthy champions.
The youth team finish their season at home to Bristol Rovers next Saturday at the Northcourt, kick off 11am.
United: Stevens, Ricketts (Diaz-Benitez 46), Carroll, McCormack, Hawtin, Graham, Humphries, Hayden, Baptiste, Bryan (Hastings 85), Jeacock