Oxford United’s under 18s kicked off their league season with a battling 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday.
EFL Youth Alliance
South West Division
Saturday 4th August
AFC Bournemouth 1
Oxford United 1
Leading through a Slavi Spasov goal, United were pegged back after the break but fought hard for their point, especially after going down to ten men. Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us:
“We were really pleased with the lads and the way we played. It was never going to be easy down at Bournemouth but we did well and I think fully deserved the point.
“Obviously travelling down to Bournemouth on a sunny Saturday morning when the schools had just broken up was a challenge and we got caught up in the holiday traffic a bit to turn it into a three hour journey, but we had allowed for that and were prepared properly and we started the game very strongly. Physically we imposed ourselves on the game - we’ve heard other teams say Oxford are too nice in the past so it was good to see us competing and winning the 50/50s- Kyran Lofthouse set the tone with that but there were three of four others who stepped up alongside him as well.
It was because we were that little bit more aggressive and pressing the ball that we got our noses in front when James Cowan won the ball and got it to Owen James and he slipped Slavi in for a one v one which he took really confidently to give us the lead.
Bournemouth are a good side and moved the ball nicely but they never really broke us down and we made them play in areas where they couldn’t hurt us too much so it was still 1-0 at the break and could have been 2-0 because Slavi had another decent chances from a cross before half time.
The second half was similar: us competing and working hard and Bournemouth being patient and trying to move us out of position. It was pleasing to see the lads stick to the game plan and also create chances- Slavi had two more and James Cowan had a shot as well, but then from a free kick we fired it into the keeper’s arms and he launched it up the field where it bounced and set their lad free on goal to finish well and make it 1-1: all that nice football and they score from a long ball!
Max Harris made one unbelievable save to keep it level but then Nico Jones got a second yellow and left us down to ten men for the last ten minutes. We only had one outfield sub, Jack Stevens, so in forty degree heat it was asking a lot even before we went a man down, but it was good to see the maturity and the way we took time out of the game and made sure that we held on to the draw at least.
We were very pleased that the mindset we had asked for of being competitive and sticking together, continued all through the 90 minutes. Definitely a positive result and a good start to the season.
Harris, McCreadie, Milton, Jones, Lofthouse, Cowan, Chambers-Parillon, Elechi, Lopes, James, Spasov (Stevens)