Oxford United’s pre-season continued with a behind closed doors friendly win over Salford this afternoon.
Fresh from a 3-2 win at Oxford City the previous evening, United switched things around; the side that played 60 minutes at Court Place Farm was largely rested in favour of others, with a switch of line-up once again after the hour.
There were also first appearances for Jack Stevens in goal, Billy Bodin on the right of attack and Sam Winnall as the central striker in a first half that saw the U’s fall behind to a 12th minute header from close range, as a strong-looking Salford side pushed the U’s all the way.
However, after the break Mark Sykes, who went close with two earlier efforts, was upended for a penalty which Winnall saw saved before Matty Taylor headed United level from a right-wing cross from the once-again excellent Dan Agyei.
United then ‘won’ the 90 minutes when Taylor scored his second after 77 minutes, firing home after James Henry and Agyei had both seen efforts blocked.
The game didn't end there though, with a further 45 minutes in which United’s youngsters got their chance against a tiring Salford side in the sweltering sunshine.
Sixteen-year-old striker Gatlin O’Donkor certainly made the most of that opportunity, looping a shot over the keeper to make it 3-1 after 92 minutes, showing real power to run clear and score his second to make it 4-1 and then completing his hat-trick by out-muscling a defender and shooting beyond the stranded goalkeeper.
With fellow striker Adam Smith also on the mark in that final period, the future looks as bright as the new-look home shirts.
Two games in and pre-season is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Everyone has had minutes, nobody has picked up an injury and slowly but surely United are gathering momentum.
Next up is a friendly against Hayes & Yeading United at Thame United on Tuesday evening followed by a trip to Banbury on Wednesday.
See you there.
Stevens, Long, Moore, McNally, Chambers-Parillon, Gorrin, Sykes, McGuane, Bodin, Winnall, Williams
Eastwood, Forde, Hanson, McNally, Elechi, Brannagan, Clare, Henry, Cooper, Taylor, Agyei
Plumley, Watt, Golding, Zabeli, Sankoh, Johnson, Goodrham, Anifowose, Smith, O’Donkor, Osei Yaw
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Edmunds