Oxford United's under 18s were 3-1 winners away at Coventry City on Saturday and Coach Leon Blackmore- Such told us:
Obviously it was against Andy Whing’s Coventry side and all jokes aside it was good to him again. He is enjoying it up there but I’m sure he’s missing us!
The good news started even before the game because Freddie Niblett was back in the side after a long lay-off through injury. We wanted to give him 30 minutes and decided to do that from the beginning and we were all delighted to see him back on the grass and get game time because he’s an important member of the group. We hope he comes back looking as strong as he did before his unfortunate injury.
We have done a lot of physical work in pre season and then have had chance to get some good days looking at team shape, and the boys applied that really well: I couldn’t ask for much more in terms of implementing the game plan. We dominated the early possession and the stats back it up massively- I think we had about 61% of the possession and 18 shots on goal.
The only thing when you dominate so much is that you want more goals and it was only 1-0 at half time despite a lot of chances. Slavi Spasov forced the keeper into a couple of good saves and we had headers from crosses that we could have done better with. The goal came from good build up play and Slavi pulled it back for Ryan Crooks to slot it in for 1-0
So a good positive first half and we said to them that it may only be a pre season game but looking at how we were dominating it we have to win it. There were a couple of little bits of fine tuning and we again created a lot of opportunities which I would hope to see hitting the back of the net once people get their timing and match sharpness up to where it needs to be during the season.
The second goal came from another pull back from Slavi which Crooksy scored again, and then the third came from Slavi himself, one v one with the keeper, There were a lot of positives but we did concede in about the 80th minute which always leaves a little sour taste and led to discussions about our mental strength and the physical side of things late in games so we know there is work there to be done- on another day and in the league then that goal maybe gives Coventry a way back into the game and pushing, so we can’t give those things away
But over all I was pleased with things. We have a tough week this week away at Corby on Wednesday, managed by Stevie Kinniburgh who used to be here. We wanted to play a men’s side to show the lads what that’s all about, then we play a festival with Man United, Stoke City and Birmingham City at the weekend, eleven v eleven which will be really good.
In closing, I just want to say well done to Fabio for appearing with the first team against Crystal Place. He is only going to benefit from playing against a Premier League side and I hope he enjoyed it. Also Owen James has featured a lot with the first team recently and done really well. That’s great for him and great for us as well when we know they will be available for us this season.
Evans (Harris 60), Milton, Jones, Niblett (Chambers-Parillon 30), Trialist, Lofthouse, McCreadie, Cowan, Spasov, Crooks, Trialist (Stevens 60)