Oxford United's under 18s bowed out of the Youth Alliance League Cup this afternoon as they were beaten 2-0 by Gillingham at the Oxford Sports Park.
Having won their division in the league on Saturday the young U’s found it hard to get going against a slightly older and more experienced Gillingham side who scored late in both halves to go through to face Cambridge in the semi-final.
United fought hard but were behind after 19 minutes when Josh Chambers found space on the edge of the box and fired past keeper Kie Plumley to give the vistors the lead.
The U’s came back and might have levelled before the break when striker Gatlin O’Donkor set off on a run from half way but couldn’t force the ball past the keeper with the outstanding Tyler Goodrham unable to force the loose ball home.
Enrique Tiamuna, one of three under 16s playing up an age group, headed the last chance of the first half over the bar and in the second half United saw a Goodrham effort and a drive from sub Will Owens both go wide before Plumley, who had just made one excellent save, was beaten for the second time when Gerald Sitole headed home to send the Gills through.
A disappointing way to end the first stage of the season for this group who will now divide their time between Under 21 football and the second part of the Youth Alliance season which will see them playing regional games rather than the usual Merit League.
However, despite today’s result they should be very proud of the way they have conducted themselves through a challenging season
Plumley, Sankoh, Nosakhare, Golding, Johnson, Gardner, Anifowose (Coe), Tiamuna (Owens), Smith (Crook), O’Donkor, Goodrham
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Steve Edmunds