Oxford United's superb FA Youth Cup run came to an end tonight when their nemesis Jake Scrimshaw scored his third hat trick against them this season. The Bournemouth front man proved the difference and sent the Cherries through with a 3-0 win at Court Place Farm.
The two sides had been rivals throughout the league campaign and were very well matched- Scrimshaw apart. The first 12 minutes saw them sparring and looking for openings until United keeper Max Evans was forced into the first save of the night, a flying effort to his right to push a long-range effort round the post.
United then got into their stride and made good use of wing backs Kyran Lofthouse and Michael Elechi out wide. Central defender Nico Jones had their first serious effort and an Owen James shot went just wide before a James run after 20 minutes ended with a loose ball being steered goalwards by winger Ryan Crooks but cleared off the line by a Bournemouth defender
It was bright and entertaining with the sides trading punches throughout the first half but neither keeper was fully extended until Scrimshaw lit up the game with a superb opener. Picking up the ball 25 yards out the striker looked up and then powered a dipping, curling effort up and beyond Evans to give his side a 1-0 lead at the break.
United almost levelled before the interval only for Slavi Spasov to not quite apply the finish to another James ball in to the box, or a fine ball in by Elechi, but on the hour Scrimshaw doubled the lead with his ninth goal against the U’s this season - he scored a single goal in the opening game of the season before his hat trick run began! Needing to generate power on the ball from 15 yards out he somehow looped his header up and over the stranded Evans, and suddenly United’s cup run was in the balance.
Eight minutes later it was all over as Scrimshaw, inevitably, scored his tenth against United this term. It was another good finish, powering home from the edge of the box through a sea of legs with Evans helpless again.
United battled hard and never gave up, and one result should not undermine a remarkable season that has seen them reach the fourth round of this competition for the first time this century as well as pipping the Cherries to the league title.
Ultimately the target has to be for some of these promising young players to progress through to the first team. They will learn from this, as they learnt from winning at Burnley, and surely their time will come.
Evans, Lofthouse, Sampford, McCreadie, Jones, Elechi, Chambers-Parillon (Gardner 85), Lopes, O James, Spasov (Edwards 57), Crooks (Stevens 60)