Carroll brace and Hartley blunt the Daggers
Oxford United under-18s beat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-0 in the Football League Alliance Merit Group B at Northcourt Road this afternoon. A brace from Canice Carroll and a Joe Hartley goal earned the U’s a win, although the final scoreline failed to reflect United’s dominance over a resilient Daggers side.
Playing into a stiff breeze in the first half, Oxford found themselves under pressure for the first few minutes as Dagenham went looking for their first win in the league’s new format. However, the visitors’ good early work was undone in the tenth minute as United took the lead. Jordan Graham’s free kick, from near the left-hand corner flag, was met by Canice Carroll, fresh from Ireland under-17 duty, whose flicked back header left the visiting keeper floundering.
United were on top and but for some misplaced passes could have extended their lead earlier than the 41st minute, when another set piece proved Dagenham’s undoing. Graham was again the provider, this time from the right-hand side of the field, and Carroll was again the scorer to leave the visitors forlorn going into the break.
Six minutes into the second half the same combination almost increased Oxford’s lead, but this time the visiting keeper, a half-time substitute, save Carroll’s whipped in shot from Graham’s low delivery.
It didn’t take United long to make it 3-0, though, as the U’s took the lead from the resulting corner. Substitute Drew Rickett’s met the delivery with a diving header that was cleared off the line and when the ball eventually found its way to Hartley, 12 yards out, he smashed it past the keeper to make the lead unassailable.
It seemed that Oxford would go on to record a heavy win, but Dagenham dug in and began harrying the United players, giving them little time on the ball and forcing them into errors. United were forced into playing long balls from the back, bypassing the midfield, which played into the visitors’ hands, and Jack Stevens was forced into making a couple of good saves from long-range efforts.
However, it was still United that dominated possession and the Yellows were always looking to increase the scoreline, with Luke Hastings adding some direct running and Dejon Noel-Williams causing havoc with his aerial presence.
After the game, coach Leon Blackmore-Such said: “It was a tough match and a good win, although it would have been nice to have scored a few more goals. The second half got rather scrappy and we made some basic mistakes and weren’t quite at the high standards that we expect but you can’t really complain too much after a 3-0 win.”
United: Stevens, Diaz-Benitez, Carroll, McCormick, Hawtin (Ricketts HT), Hartley, Humphries (Baptiste), Hayden, Bryan, Noel-Williams, Graham (Hastings)