Oxford United’s Under 19s put in a fine performance to draw 0-0 at Aston Villa on Saturday despite fielding a very young side that contained a number of under 16s.
With the First Team’s game at Birmingham City cancelled the U’s used the time to play an internal game at the Training Ground and with 12 senior players still having to self isolate that meant a chance for some of the Academy players who had impressed in pre-season fixtures last week to once again impress the watching Karl Robinson.
That had a knock-on effect on the Under 19s who called up players from the younger age groups to give them experience of playing against Premier League Villa.
Academy Manager Dan Harris told us:
“At this stage of the season, three or four weeks into it, we had the chance to go and get some minutes into the younger players and it was obviously a great opportunity to go up against a Category 1 side: Villa have been a real powerhouse in the midlands for youth development. With 12 lads called up into the First Team game we went with a very young squad but they gave a fantastic account of themselves.
“We looked very solid out of possession. If you look at the games we have played so far we have seen plenty of the ball and had plenty of the ball so this was another kind of test altogether.
"We were resolute, resilient and showed a real sense of wanting to fight for the badge. The first year scholars who played were excellent: George Franklin played centre-half and was excellent, Fraser Barnsley played in goal and did really well, Ibby Sankoh was solid at full back and Amari Davis Stevenson was a threat on the left wing. We created three good chances and maybe could have won the game which would have been amazing.
“The under 16s really stepped up but the scholars showed a bit of leadership as well and that meant we got a good result and go into a game against Woking at the Training Ground, and then against Brighton on Saturday in good shape.”
United; Barnsley, Sankoh, Smith, Franklin, Trialist. Took-Oxley. Coe, Trialist, Griffith, Davis-Stevenson, Trialist