Oxford United’s Under 18s continued their unbeaten start to the EFL Merit League with a 1-1 draw against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.
Top scorer Albie Hopins celebrated being offered a first pro contract this week with United’s goal on a cold day on the south coast.
The first half saw both sides passing the ball well and United defending a number of crosses from the young Bournemouth side but also have the best chance of the first period when Hopkins closed the keeper down quickly from an under hit backpass and throw himself into a tackle with the ball flying just wide of the unmanned goal.
With heavy snow falling United started to create more chances as the game went on and after 48 minutes a great pass from keeper Max Harris found Hopkins on the right who drove at the defence and beat his man before firing in a shot against the post. The ever-alert Owen James seized on the rebound only for the Bournemouth keeper to make an outstanding save from the follow up.
That was mirrored at the other end on 55 when Harris made a superb double save to deny Bournemouth and soon after United took the lead when striker Dejon Noel-Williams, also offered a pro deal this week, used his strength well to win possession on the right and win a free kick which James Cowan, the side’s deadball specialist, delivered perfectly for Hopkins to head home and make it 1-0.
That might have been enough to win the game but on 82 minutes the scores were levelled through a great goal from the Bournemouth right back who beat two men and then smashed the ball home, giving Harris no chance.
United were reduced to ten men after 88 minutes when midfielder Aaron Heap was shown a red card, but the U’s rallied and held firm to claim a point.
Harris, Trialist (Sampford 34), Milton, McDonnell, Rogers, James, McCreadie, Heap, Cowan, Hopkins, Noel-Williams (Spasov 85)