Oxford United’s under 18s continued their encouraging start to the season with a 2-1 win away at Plymouth on Saturday.
Slavi Spasov scored both goals and coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us:
“Plymouth kindly moved it to 12 instead of the usual 11 o’clock so we got an extra hour’s sleep! But we were still leaving the training ground at 6am and we told the lads that this was a fixture we always like because dealing with things like an early start is important- how do we prepare, how do we make sure we are nice and bright from the start?
Credit to them because we were in good spirits and the attitude was very much ‘we’re not gong to travel four hours and not give it a real go.” Within five minutes we won a penalty and were 1-0 up. Kyran Lofthouse was fouled and Slavi put the penalty away so a great start, but to be fair to Plymouth they responded well and were the dominant side in the first half. They used the wide areas well and got plenty of crosses in so we had to defend well. Then they got a ball in from the left and it picked out a free man who volleyed it past Max Evans and it was 1-1. In fairness both our keepers had injuries which flared up on the morning so we were icing and giving them painkillers all the way down so credit to Max for playing through the pain and stepping up for us.
In the second half we changed the shape slightly and were kicking down a slope and that meant we dominated the game and had attack after attack. We had a lot of set pieces from fouls around their box and should have scored when Kyran beat his man and stood the ball up to the back post where Slavi headed against the bar.
Owen James had two or three chances around the box which on other days he will score from, and then we got ourselves back in the lead when Aaron McCreadie did well, beat a couple of players and spread the ball out for Ryan Crooks, one on one with a defender. He crossed and Slavi headed it in for 2-1 with nine minutes to go. There were nine minutes of time added on though so we had to see it out under a little bit of pressure, but Nico Jones cleared one off the line and Freddie NIblett made two or three blocks as well so we defended strongly.
The stats from the game show that although possession was similar we had more shots and crosses and entry into the final third so over all it was an even game but we created more chances and I think we deserved the win given our second half performance.”
Evans, Lofthouse, Niblett, Milton, Jones, Elechi, Crooks, McCreadie, Cowan (Chambers-Parillon), (Stevens), James (Jordan), Spasov
Sub unused: Sampford
(Click on the video above to see the United goals. Please bear with us in terms of video quality as we try and augment our coverage of the U18 and U23 sides)