Oxford United were 2-1 winners over Cheltenham thanks to goals from Owen James and James Cowan. Coach Leon Blackmore-Such writes:
Saturday 18th August
EFL Youth Alliance, South West Division
Cheltenham Town 1
Oxford United 2
“Cheltenham is always a hard game, we knew that in advance because they are very organised and very direct so they put you under pressure and with a very young side travelling we knew it would be a really good way to see how our younger players stood up to that: we had injuries and suspensions so we had an under 16 in the starting line up and even lads from the under 15s on the bench, which is fantastic experience for them.
So as expected it was very stretched and a bit of a dog fight but we pressed them really well in what was a scrappy first half. We maybe let them cross the ball too many times but we kept a clean sheet and went ahead from a free kick on 44 which Owen James did well with, beating the keeper on his side of the wall to make it 1-0 at the break.
There was a bit of fine tuning at half time. Dan Cooper is analysing our games this season which is brilliant and allowed us to show the lads clips that we thought were relevant and would help in the second half- that’s just a small example of the way everything is progressing and improving behind the scenes.
Inevitably after that we conceded inside two minutes of the restart! Max Harris made a very good save but someone didn’t track their man so the rebound went Cheltenham’s way and we were back to all square.
We had 60% of the possession and 15 shots so we were playing well enough and we were worth at least a draw, but then with about ten minutes to go Viktor Milton was fouled and James Cowan stepped up to take the penalty. The keeper- who maybe had a point to make because we released him last year- made a good save but it came back to James and he scored to make it 2-1 and win the game for us.
There were eight minutes of added on time so we had to see that through and make sure we didn’t do anything stupid to cost us the win, but you can see everyone learning how important it is to do that and I thought we saw it out very well.
A good win and now we move on to a derby against Swindon at home on Saturday which we are obviously looking forward to.
Harris, Gardner, Niblett, McCreadie, Milton, Elechi, Cowan, Chambers-Parillon, Spasov, James, Stevens (Goodrum 80)
Subs not used