Tyrone Marsh bagged himself a brace as the development squad strolled to a straightforward 3-0 win at Didcot Town. Triallist Dylan McGlade did his cause no harm with a fine performance, capping it with an excellent solo goal.
You could have been forgiven for thinking that Didcot were still in the changing room after 15 minutes, such was United's dominance in the opening stages of the match. Aidan Hawtin was the first to try his luck, shooting narrowly wide after just two minutes. Moments later Marsh drew the first save of the game as he connected with a cross from Hawtin. In fact, Didcot goalkeeper Gareth Tucker was all that stood between Oxford and a commanding early lead, making an exceptional reaction save to deny Marvin Ekpiteta who rose to meet another Hawtin cross. But the goal that Oxford had been threatening came soon enough, as Marsh darted in to nod home after McGlade had twisted and tricked his way past his man and delivered a dangerous ball in.
Didcot were stung into action and finally began to probe the young Oxford defence. Just minutes after falling behind, the hosts had the ball in the net themselves when Harry Halls rose to head in a free-kick. However, as Halls wheeled away in celebration the linesman's flag went up and the goal was disallowed. It looked a marginal decision which left the Didcot players and fans unhappy, but having dominated so far it would have been harsh for Oxford to be pulled back level after Didcot's first attack of the game.
But having started like a freight train, Oxford had by now slowed down to more of a slower chug (sorry, couldn't resist!), though they were still easily in control of the match. McGlade added a second just before the half-hour mark after twisting and turning past several challenges before slotting past Tucker.
Josh Shama was causing all sorts of problems for the Didcot defence as well and he came close to giving Oxford a third with a header, but Joel Meade was on hand to clear it off the line. But Crocombe was called into action shortly before half-time to palm away a free-kick as the Railwaymen sought a route back into the match.
|Picture from @OxfordMailOUFC|
But it was Oxford who remained on the front foot after the break and Hawtin came agonisingly close to adding a third as he saw his powerful shot come thundering back off the underside of the bar. Tucker again had to be on his toes to turn away shots from David Lynn, Josh Ruffels and Scott Davies (not all at the same time) but there was only so much he could do as the chances just kept coming. Marsh got his second of the night after some good work out wide from substitute Gregg Hackett, slipping the ball past the keeper for Oxford's third.
The yellows made several changes to give some of the youth team players some game-time, but still United's dominance continued. James Roberts came on for the final ten minutes and came close to grabbing a goal himself as he burst through the middle of the defence, but was unable to prod it past the goalkeeper.
Didcot could be in for a tough time this season, if their pre-season is anything to go by. As well as being comfortably beaten by United's development squad tonight, they suffered a worrying 4-0 defeat against an experimental Oxford City side, as well as troubling defeats against Hellenic League sides Milton United and Ardley United. Let's hope they're saving their best for when the season gets underway!
As for us, Marsh, Shama, Hawtin and McGlade put in impressive individual performances, but what impressed me most was that they put on such a coherent display having only been thrust together as a group this summer. Already there are signs of an understanding between several of these players and perhaps that bodes well for our development system as a whole. I'll be very interested to see how they develop over the course of the season.