Oxford United's fantastic supporters got the win they deserved to cap a terrific week in Portugal in pre-season. Two goals from Wes Thomas earned the U's a confidence boosting win against Championship opposition but once again their travelling fans were the stars of the show.
James Henry made an encouraging debut after joining this week, the former Wolves winger picking passes and dictating play from a number 10 role just behind Thomas. With Rob Hall and Joe Rothwell always keen to come in from the wide areas it meant a fluid, mobile shape for the U’s, although it was defender Charlie Raglan who caught the eye in the opening quarter with some brave blocks against Championship new boys Hull. The Tigers did force the ball home at one stage when Abel Hernandez tapped a rebound home, but the offside flag saved the U’s and kept Scott Shearer’s clean sheet intact.
It was a terrific spectacle with the hundreds of yellow shirts making a great backdrop and on 32 minutes the goal that the travelling Yellow Army had been craving finally came. Henry started the move with a clever run and a flicked pass for the excellent Hall who cracked a shot at goal which keeper McGregor could only push away as it wobbled in the sunshine. The rebound rolled across the six yard box and there was Thomas to apply a poacher’s finish for his second goal of pre-season.
His second after 52 minutes was a better goal. Canice Carroll picked a clever pass through the right channel to send Thomas away and as the keeper came out the striker picked his spot and finished neatly for his second of the night.
Thomas may have grabbed the headlines but at the other end Fiacre Kelleher had a tremendous game, making one goal saving challenge and carrying the ball out of defence smoothly, while Marvin Johnson made another great challenge to keep the toothless tigers out just before the hour.
Hull had created plenty of chances and on 75 got the goal they had been threatening as Adama Diomande got in behind the defence, waited for Scott Shearer to commit, then thumped the ball to the keeper’s left to score via the inside of the post and make it 2-1.
Hull pressed but United defended well and will be well pleased with the win. Hundreds of fans, brilliant sunshine, a win over higher league opposition- the ideal pre-season work out.
See you back home against Brentford on Wednesday night.
Shearer (Stevens 76), Carroll, Raglan (Nelson 65), Kelleher (Martin 65), Johnson (Ribeiro 65), Hall (Baptiste 74), Lundstram (Ledson 65), Ruffels, Rothwell, (Napa 65) Henry (Hemmings 59), Thomas (Roberts)