Full time report as United lose in final
A young U's side were beaten 2-1 at Thame United this evening as North Leigh lifted the Oxfordshire Senior Cup. Two goals from Roger James earned the Millers the trophy as United's under-18 side found the going tough against their more experienced opponents. A late goal from Aaron Heap meant a dramatic end but United just could not force their way to extra time.
There was an early exchange of shots with Niall Clayton saving the first for the U’s and North Leigh’s stand-in keeper Stuart Hole fielding one at the other end but the youthful U’s didn’t test the opposition goalie (usually an outfield player) enough and paid the price on 18 minutes when James got in behind a flat back line and passed calmly beyond Clayton to make it 1-0.
It took a great save from Clayton on 29 to reach a superb strike from Jamie Cook to deny the former U’s striker a goal on his final senior game, but North Leigh dominated the first half and could easily have extended their lead before Hole made his first save of the night, getting down smartly to save a Dejon Noel-Williams effort on 41.
James was a danger all night on the right wing, his pace setting up a great duel with Graham Bryan for the U’s, but 12 minutes into the second half James was in the perfect spot as a corner was flicked on and he rifled a half-volley past the helpless Clayton from ten yards out. Bryan came as close as anyone to reducing the deficit with a low shot hacked off the line after 78 minutes and there was plenty of urgency in the last ten minutes as the Millers tired.
There was late drama when James Cowan's excellent free kick smashed against the bar and was nodded home by Heap with four minutes left to set up a terrific final few minutes where United laid siege to a determined red back line and tackles flew in from all angles.
Ultimately the U's had left it too late though and United's scholars were left to learn lessons from the night. Credit to North Leigh - deserved winners of an entertaining, well-contested final. Exactly what the competition is all about.
Clayton, Carr, Berry Hargreaves (Mannings 18), Chilcott, Bryan, Heap, Cowan, Baker, Napa, Noel-Williams, Hopkins