Oxford United's youth team continued their good form yesterday with a well-deserved draw against their AFC Bournemouth counterparts. The U's dominated the game for large periods and by the end the Premier League side's under-18s were grateful to hang on for the point.
United started the game with a high-intensity approach, never allowing their opponents time on the ball and playing some crisp, passing moves themselves.
Oxford almost took the lead after 13 minutes when Ryan Crooks skipped past a couple of challenges and fizzed in a shot that came back off the foot of the post. Bournemouth made the most of their reprieve and just two minutes later they found themselves in front. A free-kick was delivered to the back post where Max Harris parried the ball but a Bournemouth player was on hand to head home from a tight angle.
Far from being disheartened to find themselves behind, the United boys continued to ask questions of the Bournemouth defence and in the space of three minutes Aaron Heap, Owen James and Dan Carr all threatened, with Carr's chance perhaps the pick as he drove into the area before shooting straight at the keeper.
In the 23rd minute one of the Bournemouth centre-backs was shown a yellow card for a late challenge, which was to prove significant as just before the break he hauled down James and was shown a second yellow, meaning the visitors would play the whole of the second half with ten players.
United continued the second period with the same intent as they ended the first, and were immediately on the front foot with Crooks and Heap both testing the visiting goalie.
Substitute Kyran Lofthouse almost made an immediate impact when he was put clean through on goal, only for his shot to fly inches over the bar. However, in the 71st minute he pulled Oxford level as he again found himself with just the goalie to beat, this time his shot going in off the bar for the goal the U's deserved.
Oxford continued to look for the winner, with James shooting just wide on 75 and Albie Hopkins also going close in the closing stages, but Bournemouth managed the game well and in the end United had to settle for a well-deserved point.
Oxford United: Harris, Carr, Baker, Berry-Hargreaves, Heap, Hopkins, Cowan, Mannings (Lofthouse 61), Bryan, Crooks (Stevens), James