Oxford United’s under 18s moved through to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup last night with a memorable win on penalties at Burnley.
In a fantastic game that ended with the Clarets down to nine men and Ryan Crooks scoring a late equaliser to force the game into extra time it was keeper Max Evans who became the hero, saving two penalties to send United through to face the winners of tonight’s tie between Mansfield Town and AFC Bournemouth.
“I am so proud of every one of the boys” Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us at the final whistle. “The preparation was right, it was a great experience for them all to be playing at Turf Moor and I thought they were a credit to themselves as well as the club.
“We went behind early on but didn’t let that affect how we wanted to play the game. We kept creating chances and didn’t panic and in the end deserved the equaliser. It got unbelievably tense when it went to penalties but we are through and have shown what we can do and I am absolutely delighted for all of them.”
First Team Manager Karl Robinson was at the game and was equally impressed:
“It was a magnificent game of football and I thought the boys deserved to the win: they had much more of the game and showed tremendous composure. I went into the dressing room after and they were buzzing but they also did things right: they were happy but humble, they weren’t bouncing around to thumping music and doing anything stupid. They were very respectful to our hosts, as we always are and as they are being taught to be.
“That’s important and comes from Dan Harris, our Head of Academy, Leon, and Chris Hackett. All three are doing a fantastic job but that’s true of all of the staff throughout the Academy.
“It was a great night for all involved and I was really happy to see it for myself, and can I also say thank you to all the friends and family who travelled to support them. It was a horrendous journey- even worse on the way back with the motorways closed- but hopefully the performance and the win made the journey home that bit better.
“It’s a home draw next, whoever it is against, and it would be brilliant to see as many Oxford fans as possible come out and support these young players once the details get sorted out.”