Oxford United’s under 18s missed an opportunity with a 1-4 defeat against Yeovil Town at Court Place Farm this afternoon. The U's came to life a little too late, not hitting top speed until 2-0 down. A Gatlin O'Donkor penalty gave them hope but when a second penalty was missed it was the Glovers who killed the game off with striker Alfie Lloyd completing a very impressive hat-trick with two late goals.
The U’s second in the table and looking to close the gap on leaders AFC Bournemouth fielded a young side with George Franklin, Enrique Tiumuna and O’Donkor all stepping up from the under 16s and looking comfortable despite the age difference.
Yeovil made a mockery of the league table and created as many chances as the U’s in an even first half without truly testing keeper Kie Plumley while O’Donkor forced a good save from the visiting keeper with the best chance of the opening 45 minutes.
The striker planted an effort into the side netting early in the second half after again showing good strength to get in on goal at a tight angle, but six minutes in to the second half United were undone when a deep corner was nodded back at the far post and touched beyond Plumley from close range to hand the Glovers the lead.
It got worse soon after for the U’s when the outstanding Lloyd got in behind them from a simple ball over the top and lobbed the ball delicately over the stranded Plumley to double the lead.
United raised the intensity, second year Callum Crook adding a little bit of strength and knowhow up front and when O'Donkor was hauled over inside the box on 75 they were back in the game as the 16-year-old picked himself up and rolled the penalty home to make it 1-2 and set up a grandstand finish.
Tyler Goodrham, making his return after a 12 week absence after injury almost got them level with a close range header that produced the best save of the match from the Yeovil keeper but on 84 minutes he again underlined his potential with a superb run inside a defender who brought him crashing down for a second penalty.
This time O'Donkor sent his spot kick too close to the keeper who saved and ensured his side went home with all three points even depite having a man sent off in the melee that folowed as O'Donkor tried to force the loose ball home.
The ten men then rubbed salt into the wound when Lloyd ran clear once more and finished neatly to make it 1-3 and then in injury time completed his hat trick from the spot after being fouled just inside the box.
Entertaining but a frustrating afternoon for the U's who will learn lessons and go again.
Plumley, Watts, Franklin (Sankoh 70), Gardner, Johnson, Golding, Tiamuna (Goodrham 75), Coe, O’Donkor, Anifowose (Crook 60), Smith
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Edmunds