Oxford United’s Under 18s ended the first part of their season with a 4-1 win over Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
The young U’s had a different look for this game, as Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us:
“We took a different approach because it was the last game of this phase of the season and we had already won the league so a number of our players stepped up to play for the under 23s at Swansea and we were able to look at a number of players who haven’t played recently and deserved their chance, plus players from the under 16s who will have to step up to this level next season and a couple of under 15s on the bench and some trialists
“I was really excited to see the sort of blend we had and we showed those young lads the way we approach games, our pre-match meetings and so on. We changed the system a little and played a diamond in midfield, which is something I haven’t done before, so we were all learning from the day.
"Not just those young boys either; Freddie Niblett didn’t travel with the Under 23s because he is coming back from injury and he was fantastic for us, not just in the game but before and after as well. He set the standard for everyone else to follow.
“The first goal was an own goal. The ball was played back to their centre half who we pressured well and he passed it back to the keeper, without looking, for an own goal. That was early and then we had more chances: Jack Gardner made the keeper make one good save, we had a couple of chances from corners and got in to good areas. The second came when Jack Stevens, who did really well at the top of the diamond, put a corner in and Callum Crook got across the keeper to head in for 2-0.
“There was a warning though when they had a wide free kick and we weren’t set up properly and they headed it home to make it 2-1. But just on half time Leon Chambers-Parillon broke from midfield and played Callum in again and he slotted past the keeper to make it 3-1 at the break. Callum is a good finisher from the under 16s and he took his two goals really well.
“We talked about the goal we conceded at half time and looked at the video of it; we told them that because we hadn’t set up properly the game had gone back to 2-1 and could have been a lot harder than it needed to be. That sort of lapse in concentration isn’t acceptable so they have a lot to learn and hopefully they will see how seriously we take it and will take that back when they play for the under 16s and 15s.
“The second half was pretty even and we might have done better from a few opportunities but we made it 4-1 through Jordan Edwards one on one with the keeper for a good finish again.
"There were lots of positives : Harry Sampford did well alongside Freedie Niblett, Jack Stevens got 75 minutes and looked bright and a couple of trialists impressed us and will be in the building for longer now. So a positive day all round."
Trialist, Trialist (Da Silva), Sampford, Niblett, Elechi, Trialist, Gardner (Spence), Chambers-Parillon, Stevens (Nosakhane), Crook (Coe), Edwards
Coe, Clinton, Spence,