Oxford United 2 United Reserves 2: Resilient Reds stay unbeaten in pre-season after stirring comeback
Posted by nickogs20 on July 26, 2008
|Oxford United||2-2||MUFC Reserves|
|Odubade 16||–||Drinkwater 54|
|Guy 52||–||Hewson 75|
With the hosts 2-0 to the good after 52 minutes of this encounter at the Kassam Stadium you could have been forgiven for thinking the wheels had slightly come off the reserves’ encouraging pre-season campaign so far, but Reds’ boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked on as his young team produced a comeback the great man would have himself been proud of. Well-worked goals on the break from Danny Drinkwater and skipper Sam Hewson earned United a thoroughly deserved point that showed there’s something of a steely side there to compliment the slick passing and skills.
The starting lineup saw four changes from last week’s win at Altrincham – Conor Devlin replaced Gary Woods in goal, while Richard Eckersley (back from injury), Corry Evans and Joshua King replacing first-team call-ups Craig Cathcart, Rodrigo Possebon and Tom Cleverley. Evans, making his first appearance of pre-season, took up a role in front of the back four as part of quite a narrow midfield, with Eikrem and Hewson taking up the wide positions only when necessary and the full-backs being expected to offer width.
Oxford started the stronger, and although United had been slowly easing their way into the game, it was the Blue Square Premier side who took the lead after Devlin’s missed punch from a corner saw the ball fall to Yemi Odubade, who did well to volley home when slightly off balance. Genuine chances were few and far between until the home side doubled their advantage early in the second half, striker Jamie Guy burying a rebound after David Gray had done well to clear his initial effort off the line.
This delighted the majority of the 6000 strong crowd, but also sparked the United youngsters into life. Just two minutes after conceding that second goal, the Reds had one back, and it was all about Danny Drinkwater. A surging run from deep inside his own half took him well into opposition territory, and after cleverly flicking a pass to Eikrem on the right flank, he continued his run into the box and was in perfect position to head into the roof of the net as the defence focused their attentions on Macheda.
2-1 and the game was now an open and engaging contest with both sides going close over the next twenty minutes, but when a fourth goal did finally arrive, it went to the visitors. Another rapid break from Drinkwater saw the England U18 international play David Gray in on the right and his cross was just asking to be converted – Hewson duly obliged with a firm header at the far post to bring his side level.
Further chances came and went but as both managers took the opportunity to give other players a run-out, the game lost its rhythm somewhat and a 2-2 draw looked an inevitable and ultimately fair outcome. The goalscorers were the stand-outs for United and Richard Eckersley again impressed at centre-back, but a lack of width in attack (despite the source of the two goals) continues to be something of a concern. All in all though this was an encouraging set of answers given to a stern test set by an enterprising Oxford side, and should be ideal preparation for Wednesday’s Lancashire Senior Cup final clash with Liverpool in Leyland.
1. Conor Devlin
2. David Gray
3. Jimmy Derbyshire (12. Oliver Gill ’85)
4. Richard Eckersley
5. James Chester
6. Corry Evans (17. Matty James ’46)
7. Magnus Eikrem (15. Joe Dudgeon ’85)
8. Daniel Drinkwater
9. Federico Macheda (16. Oliver Norwood ’58)
10. Sam Hewson (c)
11. Joshua King (18. Evandro Brandão ’46)
13. Sam Johnstone
14. Kenny Strickland
Oxford’s OS has a very good match report of their own up, as well as some pictures and further coverage. I’ll try and fill in the gaps on the subs bench at some point over the course of the evening.