Oxford United’s Under 18 side warmed up for their new season with an excellent win against West Bromwich Albion.
Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us:
”We were due to start the league season but Portsmouth were offered a chance to go on tour, which obviously they had to take because it would be great experience. So we had no game penned in until West Brom got in touch. We beat them last season in a friendly and it was a really competitive match so maybe they were looking for a bit of revenge!
We have done well in pre-season and started extremely well again and were 2-0 up after half an hour. The opener was very pleasing because it was a training ground routine and James Cowan took an excellent free kick which Slavi Spasov converted to make it 1-0. Then on the half hour Owen James was brought down for a penalty and James Cowan stepped up to score and make it 2-0.
So we had played well and saw it through to the break but we knew West Brom would come at us; their staff were reminding them what was expected of them and they came flying at us and after 55 minutes it was 2-2. That was a little bit of naivety from us, maybe, but that’s why we play these friendlies: the boys have to stand up to that sort of pressure and learn how to handle difficult situations.
But credit to everyone because we didn’t crumble, we were stubborn and hung in there and then we started to get our rewards and create chances, and after some good work from Kyran Lofthouse, who has been outstanding at wing-back in recent weeks, Ryan Crooks got on the ball and finished very well to make it 3-2 with what turned out to be the winner.
If we had been disappointed by how the lads dealt with things straight after the break this time we were delighted because they managed the game very well and showed that they weren’t going to be bullied or conceding the ball in bad areas. It was very professional and capped a really good week to beat a Category 1 side like West Brom.
With Shandon Baptiste making his debut and Fabio playing for the first team at 16 it has been such a great week for us all and I want to thank the players for their hard work throughout the summer as we prepare for the league season itself.
Evans, Lofthouse, Niblett (Chambers- Parillon 70), Jones, Elechi, Crooks (Stevens 80), McCreadie, Cowan, James, Spasov (Goodrun 85)