Pirates go through at Northcourt Road
Oxford United's FA Youth Cup hopes fell at the first hurdle this evening as two second-half goals sent Bristol Rovers through with a 2-0 win at Northcourt Road.
United started well and Aaron McCreadie had an early effort clip the bar with the keeper beaten. Rovers then came close themselves when Luke Russe forced keeper Niall Clayton into an excellent save, before right winger Joe Hartley almost gave the U’s the lead, planting a difficult chance at the back post into the side netting.
There were some crunching tackles, midfielder Aaron Heap showing terrific commitment and not shirking the 50/50s, before the best chance of the half came to Dejon Noel-Williams as he ran clear, beat a recovering defender but then fired wide with just the keeper to beat. It was to be United's best chance of the night.
It also proved to be the last action for the front man with Owen James replacing him at the break and offering a different sort of threat. Prompted by by some clever link play by Malachi Napa the U’s had the better of the possession for the first 20 minutes of the second half but were up against a physically strong and very well disciplined Rovers back line.
United’s own defence was equally strong but on 68 were breached. Clayton had just pulled off one very good save but the U’s hadn’t cleared their lines and when the ball went to Tyrone Tucker-Dixon he curled in an excellent goal from the edge of the box, sending it left-footed into the bottom left corner with Clayton helpless.
United raised their game and tried to recover but on 77 were heading for the exit when Tom McHew let fly from similar distance to the first goal to make it 2-0 and leave United with just too much to do.
A very even, very well-contested game decided by two good finishes to send the Pirates through.
Clayton, Berry-Hargreaves, McDonnell, Carroll, Chilcott, Hartley (Hopkins 72), Heap, McCreadie ( (Mannings 82), Bryan, Napa, Noel-Williams (James 46)