By Harry Burton
Oxford United U18's went down 2-1 to a strong Wantage Town side but put up a good display and in truth deserved something from the game. Oxford went into the game on the back of an emphatic 10-1 win over Deddington Town on Saturday while Wantage had a 2-1 success over Milton United. With Oxford's first team playing in Scotland against Alloa Athletic, it was a chance for the Oxford fans that didn't travel to see the promising talent coming through the ranks such as Aidan Hawtin, Josh Ashby, James Roberts, Marvin Ekpiteta and Eddie Cavanagh. It was a cool evening so the conditions were a lot better than the sweltering temperatures of Saturday.
The opening stages were fairly even and both sides played the ball around well with a fairly flat playing surface to play on at Alfredian Park. Oxford's Muctaru Conte looked lively with pacy runs down the left wing, while Wantage's Anaclet Odhiambo - brother of former Oxford player Eddie Anaclet - linked up well with the powerful forward Jimmy Deabill. Wantage had a few tame efforts on goal with some rolling harmlessly wide or falling into the reliable hands of Cavanagh. From defence to attack there were great passes being exchanged by Oxford which is exactly what the supporters want to see at all age groups of the club.
Hawtin rolled a shot wide as Oxford started to create space around the box after good spells of possession. But soon after at the other end Wantage had a great opportunity to take the lead as a free kick found Deabill in the box, but he shot wide. Oxford began to give away possession as Wantage started to create more chances and the hosts came close when a cross was headed over by Deabill. Deabill was proving to be a menace to the Oxford defence and went close when a clearance from Cavanagh rebounded off him, but it rolled wide of the goal.
Oxford started the second half well with plenty of possession but soon after fell further behind. A Wantage cross caused a scramble in the box and Danny Lachacz reacted first and poked it into the net to make it 2-0. Oxford stepped it up to try and rescue something from the game and could have had a penalty after an apparent push on Aidan Hawtin, but the referee waved the protests away.
Soon after Oxford pulled a goal back, a poor punch by Wantage sub goalie Matt Collis fell to Josh Ashby and his shot found the corner of the net to make it 2-1. Wantage then went close again after a scramble but the shot went just wide of the post. The game then started to become a midfield affair with both sides' defences holding firm and reducing each other to shots from distance.
In the latter stages of the game the Oxford defence let Wantage in but Cavanagh came out to clear the danger. Oxford didn't create any real chances in the closing stages bar one deflected shot into the keeper's hands. Richie Guy went close with a lobbed effort which went just over the bar for Wantage and soon after the referee bought proceedings to a close.
Despite the result Oxford can take a lot of positives from the game. They certainly dealt with a powerful side well, which was impressive considering it was a young Oxford side. Oxford deserved something from the game but it wasn't meant to be and they now move on to a friendly with Abingdon United while the first team are in action at the border boys of Berwick Rangers.