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Match Report: Oxford United Academy lose to Garuda Select

Early goal the difference as the U's go down 1-0

15 February 2022

Garuda Select is a long-term football coaching programme, training in the UK and regularly competing against the academy sides of professional teams.

In a behind-closed-doors friendly, the Oxford United Academy side, comprised mainly of first-year scholars and under-16 players, lost by a single goal to the well-drilled visitors from Indonesia.

In wet and windy conditions at the Kassam Stadium, Garuda took an early lead. United came back into the game, with one cross from Josh Johnson skimming the crossbar, but goalmouth action at either end was scarce.

The rain abated in the second half, with both teams able to get the ball down and play a more passing game. United forced a couple of corners but the visitors forced Eddie Brearey into a good save in the 73rd minute. A minute later, Aiden Elliott-Wheeler, an Oxford season-ticket holder who has been with the club since the age of nine, smashed a shot goalwards from a tight angle, forcing the Garuda keeper to somehow parry the ball over the bar.

The U's continued to ask questions and, from one attack, centre-back Erion Zabeli struck the bar from the edge of the area. The woodwork saved Garuda twice in quick succession with five minutes remaining when a free-kick was diverted onto the bar and the follow-up hit the post, and the U's hit the post again in the final minute.

However, the beleaguered Garuda defence was able to hold out for the narrowest of victories against a valiant United side.

After the game, Dan Harris told us:
“It was a fantastic experience for them to play on the pitch at the Kassam Stadium for the first time and I want to thank the groundstaff for preparing the pitch in difficult conditions. With Mola streaming the game to a large audience around the world, there were a few nerves, but what a great way for the two clubs to showcase some outstanding young footballers.
“One or two of the Academy players are out on loan at the moment and one or two were involved in a first-team friendly this afternoon, so we had a very young side out there but the enthusiasm and the energy were really good.
“It’s a very impressive set up at Garuda and we wish them well for the future.”

United: Brearey (Barnsley 46), Maxwell (Mole 80), Sankoh, Took-Oxley, Franklin, Zabeli, Davis-Stephenson, Johnson, Elliott-Wheeler (Bradney 80), Tiamuna, Coe (Triallist 60) 

Report by Martin Brodetsky

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