Oxford United’s Under 23s warmed up for this weekend’s Premier League Cup game with a highly competitive 0-0 draw at home to Gillingham this afternoon.
Played on one of the pitches at the new training ground United used the game to give a number of players the chance to get game time including Cameron Norman, Sam Long, Luke Garbutt and new signing Mark Sykes who impressed in midfield and had the first effort of the game with a third minute effort which forced the visiting keeper in to the first save of the match.
Harvey Bradbury then had two or three half chances and midfielder Tsun Dai almost converted the best chance of the first half, but it was keeper Jack Stevens who turned in one of the best performances of the game, making one decent save in the first half and at least three similar ones after the break to keep his side level.
In between those saves Long guided a header just off target from a Dai corner but United were grateful that their trialist centre half made a vital interception in the very last minute to keep it at 0-0.
Chris Allen’s side now travel to Swansea for their next fixture in the Premier League Cup on Saturday, and Chris told us:
“It was tough going at times, but properly competitive, which is what we wanted. Defensively we were sound and when we needed Jack to make saves he did it really well. Sometimes people come in to these games and don’t have the right attitude, but today they all fought for everything and we could easily have won it because we did create chances.
“We didn’t want to include any of the under 18s because they have a big game tomorrow night against Bournemouth in the FA Youth Cup but the key thing was to keep everyone ticking over, give people like Mark Sykes a chance to play, and over all a draw was probably the right result.”
Stevens, Norman, Long, Trialist, Garbutt (Taylor 85), Dai (R James 85), Little, Heap, Hopkins (Trialist 40), Sykes, Bradbury