Jonte Smith, Owen James and Kyran Lofthouse were on the mark as Oxford United's under-23 side put in a fine performance to beat Hull City 3-0 at Thame United's ASM Stadium this evening.
A penalty from new arrival Smith, a well-placed header from young forward James and a last-minute strike from Lofthouse earned the young U's a deserved victory that keeps them in the competition with one game left at Wolves next Friday.
The U's fielded a side that mixed senior players such as Samir Carruthers and Sam Long with a number of their successful under-18 side, but it was Bermudan international Smith who put them ahead on the stroke of half time with a penalty - his second in two games since signing and fourth in three games since arriving on trial.
That penalty was a direct result of Carruthers running at a retreating Hull backline and being brought down, and the fit-again midfielder put in a superb display to catch the eye of the watching Karl Robinson with Saturday's home game against Peterborough in mind, as did the superb Sam Long at centre-half.
James then doubled the lead in the 50th minute when his fellow youth-team winger Kyran Lofthouse set right-back Matt Berry-Hargreaves free on the right and his deep cross was cleverly headed back across the keeper by James at the back post.
Smith, who had also tested the keeper with a first-half header and a low drive early in the second half, did well until replaced by Harvey Bradbury for the last half hour, while keeper Jack Stevens made two or three good saves to keep the fast-breaking Hull youngsters at bay in a very open game that flowed from end to end for the full 90 minutes; his best saves coming after 72 minutes with a low block from a Billy Chadwick effort and then two late saves at full stretch.
Otherwise the United keeper was well shielded by Berry-Hargreaves, Long, Nico Jones and Matt Taylor, with Aaron McCreadie doing a very solid job of protecting them from his place just in front of the back four. At the other end James and Lofthouse both went close before Lofthouse rounded things off with a third when Carruthers sent sub Albie Hopkins clear and Lofthouse slotted home from six yards out.
An excellent win and another very promising performance from the young U's, who now try to win their way through to the next round when they play Wolves at Molineux next Friday evening.
Stevens, Berry-Hargreaves, Long, Jones, Taylor, McCreadie, Carruthers, Lopes (Hopkins 77), Lofthouse, Smith (Bradbury 62), James