Oxford United’s under 18s continued their excellent recent form with a 2-1 win over Leyton Orient this afternoon to make progress in the Youth Alliance League Cup.
Having reached the knockout stages the U’s went through at a chilly Abingdon United thanks to two penalties from Albie Hopkins after the visitors had previously taken the lead from the spot themselves.
United made a good start and both captain James Cowan and Ryan Crooks sent early efforts wide before an Owen James free kick flew inches wide after 12 minutes. Orient were dangerous as well and United keeper Niall Clayton made a good save before the visitors took the lead from the spot after 31 minutes when the unfortunate Matt Berry-Hargreaves was judged to have brought his man down inside the box.
Coach Leon Blackmore Such shook things up at half time, switching to a four-man back line rather than the three man defence employed in the first 45 minutes. That paid off as United really hit their stride after the break and the game hinged on two decisions just before the hour.
First the dangerous Kyran Lofthouse was clipped on the left edge of the area and Hopkins fired home from the spot to make it 1-1. A minute later and James burst past his man on the opposite side of the area and was again tripped. Hopkins made no mistake - finding the net twice despite being ordered to retake after scoring at the first time of asking.
2-1 up, United should really have made the game safe but sent a number of chances wide of the mark. Lofthouse, Crooks, the excellent Aaron Heap, Cowan and subs Jack Stevens and Slavi Spasov all had opportunities but in the end it didn’t matter too much as the defence held out to book United’s place in the next round.
With an FA Youth Cup game to come against Dagenham and Redbridge the young U’s now switch their attention to the league when they welcome Exeter City, one of their rivals at the top of the table to Abingdon United on Saturday, kick off 11am. It’s free to watch so with no first team game why not pop along and see the stars of tomorrow in action?
Clayton, Carr, Berry-Hargreaves, McCreadie, Heap, Cowan, Crooks (Spasov 84) Hopkins, Manning (Chilcott 46), Lofthouse (Stevens 74), James