East Oxford United U16 0 Thame Youth U16 Colts 2
U16 Colts tame initially, but improve to snatch the points at East Oxford
The U16 Colts lined up on a chilly afternoon for what (based on previous encounters at least) was likely to be a challenging and eventful game at Marsh Lane. The visitors got off to a lively start, with early chances for Ioan who was just denied by a good save from the East Oxford 'keeper, then Adam with a speculative effort from a long way out which was comfortably saved. The home side's pace caused us problems, and despite early promise our lads had a patchy first period, often playing the ball long when better shorter options were available and struggling against the speed, trickery and guile of the hosts. There were further chances though: Barna's interception, great run and cross failed to find a red shirt in the six yard box, then Adam put Tom Fowler in on goal, his cross-shot evading the goalie but unfortunately also the far post by about a foot. Hassan's team's pace and dynamism was always threatening and Reuben's goal led a charmed life as East Oxford hit the post twice in just over a minute, but immediately after the second near-miss Thame broke through the middle, the ball eventually falling to Ioan on the right hand corner of the box who hit an unstoppable shot with the outside of his boot to the keeper's left. Our scorer nearly grabbed a second for himself and the team just before the break but forced a great save out of the home custodian. 1-0 to Thame at half-time, though arguably 'lady luck' played a big part in this.
The second half started brightly, as per the first: Ioan hit the post early on, but although the Colts passing and movement improved after the break our tricky opponents continued to threaten . Dogged defending was the order of the day, and Reuben had to be constantly alert to deal with numerous second half shots, but mostly from distance. There was a clash of heads as Oscar bravely beat a home attacker to a cross, but relief all round after a worrying minute or so as he was able to continue. As the home side pushed forward gaps started to appear at the back: Tom Fowler had a shot cleared off the line, then Finn was denied a 1 on 1 by a good save, the rebound falling to the livewire Tom Enticott only for the keeper to save again. Finally the pressure eased slightly as Thame grabbed a second, Jonno's quick throw giving Tom E the chance to break down the left: his cross fell to Finn whose shot was deflected into Ioan's path to smash home gratefully. The game was far from over though and the hosts remained a constant threat, but when the ball somehow failed to go in during a frantic scramble with five minutes to go and a shot sailed a few inches wide shortly afterwards the travelling fans sensed that maybe this wasn't to be our opponents' day, and indeed it wasn't as Thame held on for a hard-fought victory.
Being honest this result flattered the Colts a bit: East Oxford were excellent going forward, had numerous efforts on goal and were a joy to watch at times (particularly numbers 5, 10 and 11). However the boys dug in and ground out a win, and a clean sheet always deserves credit. Next weekend brings another significant challenge as Carterton visit us for the return fixture at MVP having subjected us to the proverbial 'long journey home' after a 4-0 humbling at their place...