Oxford United's youngsters were 3-2 winners at their Oxford City counterparts this evening. Goals from a trialist, winger Albie Hopkins and striker Dejon Noel-Williams were enough to give Chris Allen's team a win in an entertaining behind closed doors friendly at Court Place Farm.
It was a very open game from the very start and it took two good saves from Niall Clayton to keep City at bay in the early stages, the keeper twice showing good anticipation to come off his line and dive at the feet of advancing strikers as the defence in front of him backpedalled. His best save came after 13 minutes when he somehow denied City’s lively number 9 after the forward had again run free behind the back line.
Having ridden their luck United then sprung forward and took the lead after they started to apply pressure for the first time. With two trialists in the side, one at right back and one in central midfield, it was the latter who made it 1-0 with a rising drive from 15 yards out that ripped past the keeper to give the U’s the advantage against the run of play.
They grew into the game after that with Hopkins increasingly involved on the left and Aaron Heap starting to win the ball and feed strikers Noel-Williams and Brandon Taverner. On 26 minutes it was 2-0 with a well-worked second goal. Winger Rev James provided an excellent service from the right and Hopkins, last season’s top scorer in the youth team, took a touch to kill the ball dead then calmly passed it beyond the keeper to double the lead.
Heap might have made it three when he burst into the box after 38 minutes but dragged the ball wide, but it took an excellent tackle from the alert Steven Johnson-Fikula right on half time to ensure his side kept their two goal lead at the break.
They were swiftly pegged back after the interval though when some quick feet a minute into the second half from City’s number 8 drew a challenge that caught man rather than ball and led to a penalty that the same player dinked past Clayton as he dived to his right. It would have been 2-2 a minute after as well had an offside flag not come to United’s rescue and there were other chances for the home side as well before they levelled on the hour with a superb goal, struck powerfully home from 25 yards and into the top right corner with Clayton helpless.
United were not to be denied though and on 74 minutes were ahead once more when James again showed a clean pair of heels to the City defence to skip past two challenges and slip the ball into the path of Noel-Williams who slotted home as the keeper came to meet him.
A confidence-boosting win and plenty of youthful promise. Precisely what the game was arranged for.
Clayton (Agboola 67), Trialist, Berry-Hargreaves), McCreadie 74), Johnson-Fikula, Taylor*, Heap, R.James, Hopkins,Taverner (Spasov 62), Trialist (Cowan 57), Noel-Williams
Agboola, Noel-Williams, Hopkins, Berry-Hargreaves
*not that one
Report by Chris ‘seven games in nine days’ Williams. See reaction from Chris Allen in iFollow soon.