Long and Ribeiro return in friendly action
Oxford United were given a boost this afternoon with Christian Ribeiro and Sam Long both making their returns after injury to play a full 90 minutes in a development game against Vancouver Whitecaps at Dragon Park, the Wales National Football Development Centre in Newport.
The MLS side are over for a pre-season tour and, having lost to Cardiff City at the weekend, will play Bristol City next in a three-game programme ahead of their new season. They provided excellent competition for a youthful U’s side with Vancouver winning the game 4-0.
Ribeiro looked fit and strong on his first appearance since pre-season, seeing plenty of the ball and making some well-timed challenges at right back, while Long was given a chance to gain match fitness in an unfamiliar right-wing role until switching to his more usual centre-back position in the third of three half-hour periods.
Vancouver took the lead after 13 minutes when Hurtado sidefooted home past the helpless Jack Stevens in the United goal. They doubled their lead in the second period and two goals in the last 30 minutes earned them a 4-0 victory. In between, the U’s had created chances, Josh Ashby seeing a free kick deflect off the wall and go wide around the hour mark and James Roberts forcing the keeper into an acrobatic save early in the third period. Ashby saw another free kick hammer against the bar late on but the more experienced Whitecaps were good value for their win, as Chris Allen told us:
“It was a great opportunity to test ourselves against a strong side at a ground with good facilities. The most important things was to get Christian and Sam out there playing again after all their hard work with the physio team and on the training ground. They both did well and we will try and fit another game in to help them.
“There were a few players asked to play in unfamiliar roles but that is all part of learning the game and it was a good workout despite the scoreline.”
Stevens, Ribeiro, Raglan, Cundy (Bryan 70), Welch-Hayes (C Hawtin 80), Long, Ashby, Carroll, Napa, Roberts, Graham