Oxford United got their pre-season off to a winning start with a 3-0 win at Oxford City this afternoon.
Two goals in quick succession from Joe Rothwell and Kane Hemmings and a late strike from Wes Thomas saw the U's start with a win in front of over 2,000 people at the City Stadium.
It was a fantastic occasion to mark the launch of a new partnership between the U’s and City and the first game on the excellent new 3G surface. It took just 11 minutes for the U’s to make their mark when the excellent Rothwell let fly from 20 yards with a casual screamer! With almost no backlift, Rothwell fired the ball into the top left corner after good footwork from Robbie Hall had created the opening.
Almost straight from the restart it was 2-0 as trialist Sam Shaban ran into the box and as he was closed down worked the ball to his left for Hemmings to tap home a simple finish.
Shaban and second-half trialist Josh Smile weren’t the only new faces to United fans who got a glimpse of the youthful promise of scholars Dan Carr, Graham Bryan and Matt Berry-Hargreaves as well as first year pro Malachi Napa, who looked full of tricks in the first half as United dominated. Summer signings Scott Shearer and Fiacre Kelleher both looked accomplished on their first starts while the quick feet of Hall caught the eye in the first 45 minutes.
The second half saw a new eleven and a switch to a flexible 3-4-3 shape that revolved around John Lundstram and Ryan Ledson, fit again alongside the returning Thomas who almost stole the show with a run that took him past three men, some of them twice, before a desperate defender was able to finally stop him. Thomas also fired a late effort into the side netting after one of several surging runs from the rampaging Ribeiro.
The fierce sun had faded by then but the men in black continued to work hard against an equally hard-working City side who made it a competitive 90 minutes that will have served both sides well. Marvin Johnson sent an effort against the post with seven minutes left but two minutes later powered away to send an inviting cross in from the left for the sliding Thomas to slot home.
An encouraging start and United now head for the Algarve for a week of training and games against Middlesbrough and Hull City.
Shearer, Carr, Kelleher, Nelson, Bryan, Hall, Ruffels Rothwell, Napa, Shaba, Hemmings
Eastwood, Ribeiro, Berry-Hargreaves, Raglan, Carroll, Johnson, Ledson, Lundstram, Smile, Roberts, Thomas