Oxford United’s young guns carried on their pre-season with a 1-0 defeat in a very close game against Watford this weekend.
“It was a really good effort despite the result” Leon Blackmore-Such told us.
“It was our second game and we used it to take a look at everyone involved with the under 21 and under 18s sides, plus a couple of trialists. Watford’s side were generally a couple of years ahead of us but that’s perfect and gives our players a real chance to test themselves and we paid the opposition respect but also competed which was great to see.
“Obviously we needed to defend well and Nico Jones and Sam Johnson, playing at centre-half, did very well for us. Nico also came close to scoring with the game at 0-0 but couldn’t get his effort past the keeper from a set piece and then Kyran Lofthouse headed a difficult chance over from the rebound.
“Jack Gardner had another chance but the only goal came just before half time when we lost the ball in midfield and they broke to make it 1-1 but we did well after the break with Jack Stevens looking good, Kyran impressing at right-back and Slavi Spasov having a couple of chances.
“Just after the hour we changed all eleven players to give the under 18s their chance to get game time and they gave us energy and might have got us level: Callum Crook went close from a ball over the top and I think the fact we were disappointed after the game is probably a story in itself: we had pushed a club that was in the Premier League all the way and I quite like the reaction we got where the lads were a bit deflated by the result.
“They don’t need to be because they played well, they are getting minutes on the pitch and I think the early signs this year are really encouraging.”