Oxford United’s under 18s continued their unbeaten start to the Merit League with a 1-1 draw against old rivals Swindon Town on Saturday.
Swindon started the game well and United needed keeper Niall Clayton to make a magnificent reflex save after 11 minutes to somehow keep out a shot from six yards and allow his side to start to control the game. Clayton and his defence, skippered by Matt Berry-Hargreaves, then dealt with most things, clearing a number of crosses and set pieces and allowing those further forward to get on the ball and play some good football.
That paid off after 23 minutes when right-back Dan Carr intercepted on half way and played a brilliant ball through for Owen James. Ryan Crooks then kept the move alive to feed Carr once more and his ball into the box was cleverly lifted over the keeper by top scorer Albie Hopkins to make it 1-0.
After the break United had opportunities to kill the game off but were pegged back on 83 when the ball wasn’t cleared and a Swindon striker fired it into the top corner from 12 yards, giving Clayton no chance.
There was still time for United to force the pace once more. Crooks again set up Aaron McCreadie after 85 minutes for a one on one with the Swindon keeper but the ball got stuck under the midfielder’s boot and was cleared by a defender, while on 88 James won a header to beat the keeper in a race for the ball outside the box but the visiting defence got back to once again clear the danger.
There was one final chance in injury time when a James Cowan free kick allowed sub Fabio Lopes to control the ball and fire in a good effort that the Swindon keeper saved well to earn his side a point.
Clayton, Carr, Berry-Hargreaves, Baker, Trialist, Crooks, Heap (McCreadie 60), Cowan, Hopkins, Lofthouse (Lopes 70), James.