Oxford United’s young scholars continued their positive start to the season securing a hard fought 3-1 victory away at Southern Premier League side Biggleswade Town last night.
With a number of their group called into action with the First Team, Darren Purse and Chris Hackett’s side included five under 16s in their number but their young charges relished the opportunity to test themselves against a stronger and more experienced Biggleswade outfit.
Secondnd year scholar Will Owens got the visitors off to a perfect start on 2 minutes slotting home neatly after some clever interplay from Elijah Coe and Adam Smith.
With returning captain Mac Masters seeing plenty of the ball in central areas, Oxford continued to dominate the early exchanges under threatening skies that suggested a change in the weather was likely as the evening progressed.
Masters doubled the Yellows lead midway through the first period, lifting the ball across the goalkeeper into the far corner after Smith had again caused problems for the home sides back four.
An early concussion replacement saw under 16s centre back Max Smith replacing Owen Giles after a clash of heads and, as the home side began to find a foothold in the game, it was no surprise that they halved the deficit shortly before the break as Oxford failed to defend a throw-in down their hand side allowing a Biggleswade midfielder to drive the ball past the impressive Eddie Brearey In goal.
The half time whistle corresponded with the heavens opening and, with lightning directly over the stadium, the second period was delayed by 30mins as both sides waited out the storm whilst the match officials monitored proceedings to gauge whether a restart would be possible.
As skies cleared, both sides restarted with no drop in endeavour and, whilst the home side saw plenty of the ball, it was the Yellows who continued to offer a threat in the final third.
A red card for Biggleswade following an off the ball incident midway through the second half changed the dynamic of proceedings and, with a raft of changes for both sides the game became predictably disjointed until a moment of quality from 16-year old
wide-man Amari Davis-Stephenson saw him weave his way into the box where he was felled by a clumsy challenge to win the penalty.
It was Davis-Stephenson himself who stepped up to slot the spot kick home confidently and secure a deserved 3-1 victory for the visitors.
A useful exercise for both sides with Oxford’s young scholars now turning their attention to an away tie at Premier League Aston Villa on Saturday.
Brearey, Sankoh, Zabeli, Giles, Bates, Masters (c), Franklin, Coe, Trialist, A. Smith, Owens.
Subs: Barnsley, Trialist, Took-Oxley, Tiamuna, Elliott-Wheeler, Davis-Stephenson, M. Smith.