Oxford United's Under 23s drew 1-1 with a young Burton Albion side yesterday in a behind closed doors fixture at the Emirates Stadium, London home of Arsenal Football Club.
Academy Manager Dan Harris explains how the opportunity came about:
"As a club, we're committed to raising the standards and professionalism of everything that we do here at Oxford United. One of the ways we're doing this is by giving our staff and players the opportunity to see what things are like at the very top end of the game - the hope is that coming to places like the Emirates Stadium will inspire everyone to find ways of being better at what they do.
"We were approached by the Premier League to assist with their ongoing VAR testing as they work with the Professional Game Match Officials - it's a great opportunity for our young players to experience playing in a top arena like the Emirates in a game officiated by Premier League referees.
"In a shortened game of two 30 minute halves, we took an early lead when midfielder Tsun Dai slotted home from 9 yards out after some clever interplay in the U's midfield. Armani Little looked strong playing in a midfield two and saw plenty of the ball in the early stages.
"Chris Allen's side should have doubled their lead midway through the first half when Academy graduate Albie Hopkins worked a yard of space down the left hand side before crossing for Brandon Taverner whose left foot effort was hit straight at the keeper from 6 yards.
"We continued to press and enjoyed the majority of possession; young winger Rev James had a well struck shot saved at the near post from the keeper on 18 minutes whilst Little, who has recently been on loan at Woking, also came close to doubling the lead with a curling effort that flew narrowly wide from 20 yards.
"We went into the break one up and the introduction of Harvey Bradbury for the second half lifted the U's again as he continually unsettled the Burton back-line with his work rate and physicality.
"We were much the better side for the majority of the game but were made to pay for that profligacy in front of goal two minutes from time when a diagonal ball played behind the back four saw the young Burton forward slide the ball home past Youth Team goalkeeper Max Harris.
"We left disappointed at not securing the win in a game we dominated but will have gained useful game time for some of the young professionals who leave with the experience of having played at one of England's top stadiums."
Stevens (Harris 50), Long (c), Raglan (Johnson 50), Dickie (Berry-Hargreaves 50), Garbutt (Taylor 50), Little (Heap 45), Trialist, Hopkins, Dai, James (Bradbury 30), Taverner