Oxford United U18s ran out 2-0 winners over Forest Green Rovers at Northcourt Road this morning as Viktor Milton made his first start for the U's in nine months.
United started the game positively with Jack Stevens bringing the ball forward well from midfield. Teh dangerous Crook had the first effort of the game as he was put through on goal by Stevens, and forced a good save from the Forest Green goalkeeper with a low drive.
United’s bright start was rewarded when Crook was again sent through after terrific work from Tyler Goodrham to win the ball back. A neat interchange saw United’s striker beat his marker with a good first touch before finishing excellently into the bottom corner.
Milton, who has spent the last nine months recovering from an ACL reconstruction, came through a couple of heavy challenges in the opening exchanges and hardly put a foot wrong in the first half, forming a solid partnership with fellow centre-half Keanu Barnett-Grant.
United were tested midway through the first half. A deep cross wasn’t dealt with by the United defence and a Forest Green forward met the delivery with a diving header. However he was unable to keep his effort down and it went way over.
Goodrham was lively on the wing throughout the first 45 minutes. Playing a high press, the wide midfielder – who was part of the U’s first team squad on Tuesday in the Leasing.com Trophy - won the ball back from deep in Forest Green’s half and worked an opportunity for himself. As space opened up, he elected to shoot but could only curl his effort into the palms of the Forest Green goalkeeper.
United changed things up at the break, with Milton being replaced by Nosakhare and the trialist being replaced by Jack Gardner.
United picked up where they left off in the second half. Fabio Sole did well down the right side early in the second half and found Stevens unmarked in the area. Though the midfielder – who had an excellent game – couldn’t keep his effort on target.
Crook and Goodrham linked up well throughout the game. United almost got a second after good link up play between the pair but Crook was marginally offside.
Forest Green had a chance to level the game on 60 minutes as a deep cross found a striker unmarked in the area. His header however was sent way over.
United came back and should have doubled their lead midway through the second half. Terrific tenacity from Stevens saw the midfielder keep the ball in play. After falling over his own feet once, he still somehow managed to keep possession and found Gardner unmarked in the area. The midfielder couldn’t get the connection it needed however, and Forest Green cleared their lines.
United were largely untroubled in the second half as they continued to control the game. Substitute Jordan Edwards nearly secured the win ten minutes from time as Goodrham fed the ball to the striker. His shot from 12 yards was blocked well.
Late on, the win was secured through Fabio Sole, who received the ball on the edge of the are and finished low into the bottom corner. United's youngsters held on to take all three points at Northcourt Road in what was a good performance from the U18s
UNITED: Evans, Grant, Johnson, Sole, Milton (Nosakhare), Barnett-Grant, Goodrham, Chambers-Parillon, Crook (Edwards), Stevens, Trialist (Gardner)
Report by Liam Potter