Oxford United’s under 18s lost their unbeaten record in the EFL Merit League when they lost 5-1 at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
Bristol started the game well and should have scored in the third minute but blasted a good chance over the bar. United took advantage of that let off and were ahead after five minutes through Owen James who finished well after Fabio Lopes won the ball on half way and slipped him through to take on the keeper.
However United failed to hold on to that lead for more than a minute and Rovers were level after a nice passing move down their left allowed them to level at 1-1.
The Pirates then took the lead on 35 with a deflected effort that went the way of their striker who gave keeper Niall Clayton no chance to make it 2-1 and that became 3-1 on 51 when a long ball into the box wasn’t cleared and Clayton was left helpless again from 12 yards out.
United might have got back into the game with two big chances. The first saw James again get in on goal from a fine pass from James Cowan but his shot was saved by the keeper’s legs. Five minutes later and Albie Hopkins controlled the ball well after great approach play by Ryan Crooks on the right and a well placed cross but Hopkins got under his effort from six yards out and sent his attempt over the bar.
United were punished for that in the 62nd minute when Bristol took advantage of a loose pass on the edge of the box to make it 4-1.
Even then United created opportunities, with another shot saved by the legs of the keeper after neat passing from Hopkins and James, but were undone by another long ball on 85 with a flick on and neat finish from the edge of the box to make it 5-1 to the visitors.
Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us
“We had chances to get more out of the game- Bristol took theirs and we didn’t. But it was a chance for us to take a look at one or two of the under 16s and under 15s as well as a couple of trialists, all with an eye to the future.”
Clayton, Rogers, Berry-Hargreaves (Harris 83), McDonnell, (Askew 57), Hopkins, Trialist (Sampford 46), Cowan, Trialist, Crooks (Gardner 63), James, Lopes