Oxford United under 18s kept their impressive start to the season going with a penalty shoot out win over Portsmouth to progress in the League Cup yesterday afternoon.
Trailing at half time United hit back when under 16s striker Gatlin O’Donkor made it 1-1 and after failing to make the breakthrough despite late pressure in the 90 minutes United had two penalty saves from keeper Eddie Brearey and a decisive spot kick from winger Will Owens to send them through to the next round.
Coach Leon Blackmore-Such told us
“We’d had the long journey to Exeter on Saturday which can take it out of you if you aren’t used to it so it was good to have a cup game and the excitement around that. We did OK in the first half, keeping the ball and doing well with possession without being at our best and Portsmouth took the lead from a set piece which was annoying because we work hard on set up for those, for and against.
“Portsmouth had grown into the game and we lacked a little bit of intensity in midfield but we got back on track and with the wind at our backs in the second half we started to get on top. Will on the left got a lot of balls into the box and we had a more positive mentality all over the park.
“We had an intensity and purpose and when Gatlin came on we played with two up front and we kept having corners, crosses and half chances. We made it 1-1 when Gatlin rolled his defender and scored a very good goal and we probably should have won it in the 90 minutes. Adam Smith went close but credit to the boys because the rain was pouring down, the wind was gusting and they had to find something extra to win the game.
“Before penalties I said three things. I asked Jack Gardner, the captain of the team, to sort out who was taking them. I think it’s good to have them that responsibility. I told them we had the momentum in the game and to have that in our minds for the penalties, and I told them to have confidence. Those messages probably made no difference at all!
“But Portsmouth missed a couple, Eddie saved a couple and all of our players took theirs with confidence. So we go through and now we play Portsmouth again on Saturday in the league!"
Brearey, Watt, Nosokhare, Golding, Johnson, Masters (O’Donkor), Gardner, Coe (Tiamuna), Smith, Crook, Owens