Didcot Town 0 – 1 Oxford United

A goal from James Roberts was enough to separate the two sides in a highly contested match at the Draycott Engineering Loop Meadow stadium. It started off at a very high intensity in sweltering heat with the Oxford United youngsters stealing the show. Callum O’Dowda was very lively playing in the false number 9 role creating chances for Josh Ashby and Tyrone Marsh – both of whom failed to score. Also United youngster Max Crocombe pulled off a fabulous save to deny Didcot striker Ryan Brookes before the break. United’s winner came on the 50th minute from James Roberts with a cool finish under pressure. Shortly after, 10 changes were made by United and 5 by the Railwaymen but the game remained 1-0 after the fresh legs failed to make an impact.

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Didcot Town

James Foster –  Foster had a very solid game despite conceding the winning goal and pulled off a number of acrobatic saves to deny Oxford 7.5
Sam Elkins – Played too narrow which left him exposed to United’s attack. This poor positioning almost led to his side conceding from a number of crosses. 6.0
James Organ – Maintained a strong defensive line throughout and made it difficult for Oxford to penetrate. Good performance from Organ 7.0
Mike McKirnan – Good performance from McKiernan as he rarely lost possession and maintained the ball well 7.0
Luke Carnell – Very strong performance from Carnell. Won everything in the air defensively and forced a good save from Crocombe in the first half 8.5
Adam Learoyd – Relatively uniformed throughout with little errors. Solid performance. 7.0
Pablo Haysham – The tricky winger was very impressive and proved a big threat down wing causing Oxford’s fullbacks a lot of hassle. I’m sure he’ll be going home with his head held high despite the loss. 8.5
Matt Clarke – Held the ball well and dispatched the forward players nicely on a few occasions. Good performance from him however a few times where he cheaply gave away possession brings his rating down. 7.0
John Mills – Had a very quite game and didn’t prove to be a threat to the United defence at all. 6.5
Ryan Brooks – Despite forcing a very good save from Crocombe in the first half, the Didcot striker failed to hassle the United defence after this chance. 6.5
Ben Whitehead – Will be disappointed with his performance as he gave away the ball too easily throughout the game and failed to find faults in Oxford’s defence. 6.5

Substitutions

Alex Williams – Made a couple of good saves from a barrage of Oxford United attacks. Decent display 7.0
 Sam Parish – Parish did well when he came on, made a few errors but overall a good performance 6.5
Jack Self – Self will be pleased with his performance in the time himself but just couldn’t make the impression to keep the Railwaymen from losing 6.5
Jack Bernasconi – Bernasconi put in a good shift when he came on, worthy of good credit 7.0
Josh Baines – Played well when he came on and retained possession well, but made a few errors which allowed Oxford to attack 6.5

Oxford United

Max Crocombe – Made an unbelievable save in the first half to deny the Railwaymen and retained his record of not conceding throughout pre-season. Top draw performance from the New Zealand international 8.0
David Hunt – Routine performance from the wing-back which, although saw him caught out of possession a couple of times, was very good. 7.5
Sam Long – The young centre-half did not look out of place alongside his senior counterparts and won most contests in the air. Impressive stuff from the youngster. 7.0
Jake Wright – Oxford’s Mr reliable was back to full fitness after not fully recovering from an injury at the end of last season. His return to full fitness also saw a return of form as he played very well. 8.5
Jonathan Meades – His first game since obtaining a serious injury in pre-season last year saw Meades return and put in a good shift for the travelling fans to enjoy. 7.0
Josh Ruffels – Another youngster to feature in Appleton’s squad was Josh Ruffles. He was very impressive and dominated the midfield in the holding role he was placed in. 7.5
Josh Ashby – Ashby has been tipped the next best thing by some Oxford fans and his lively performance proved why. The midfield partner of Ruffles dominated midfield from the first minute and his relentless energy seemed crucial. 8.0
Tyrone Marsh – Tyrone Marsh adapted a wide role and looked very sharp throughout. However he missed a golden one-on-one opportunity which was saved by Foster. 7.0
Callum O’Dowda – The youngster played exceptionally well in the false 9 position Appleton chose to play him in. He created chances for himself and for others and was the heartbeat to this Oxford United squad. 9.0
Sam Humphries – Humphries played well creating a few chances from crosses and his overall performance was very positive 7.0
James Roberts – James Roberts grabbed the only goal of the game for the U’s which topped an already impressive performance. 7.5

Substitutions

Matt Bevans- Good defensively and going forward, Bevans matched Hunt’s performance exceptionally 7.5
Michael Raynes – Raynes made it difficult for the Railwaymen as the tall centre-half was very strong in the air and did not allow anyone in behind. 7.0
Johnny Mullins – Another one of Appleton’s men to return to the squad after injury and Mullins played very well. He, like Raines, lost very few headers and carried out a strong performance. 7.0

 

Tom Newey – Seeming to spend more time in the attacking third than the defensive, Newey caused a threat to the Railwaymen and put in a few exceptional crosses which should have been dispatched 7.5
Danny Rose – Not the greatest of performances from Rose as he was tussled off the ball too easily which made it difficult for the defence. 6.0
Michael Collins – Former Scunthorpe and Oxford new boy Michael Collins put in a very impressive performance in his second performance for the U’s by playing two exceptional passes which created two very good chances. 8.0
Aiden Hawtin – The youngster failed to make an impact down the right flank in the time that he was on and had few touches on the ball 6.0
Alfie Potter – Potter had big boots to fill replacing the highly impressive Callum O’Dowda and although being very lively he made a number of wrong decisions in the final third which could have lead to a goal-scoring opportunity 6.5
Josh Shama – Another youngster who was very impressive. Shama constantly expressed flourishes of confidence by cutting in and shooting at goal. He brought something inventing into the side and although it didn’t quite work, he certainly excited the fans. 8.0
Danny Hilton – Was a very poor performance from him as he missed multiple clear cut opportunities which should have been buried at any level. Very disappointing. 5.0

Man of the Match

Callum O’Dowda – He was unmatched by anybody else as his positive performance created excitement and ambition within the team. He was capable of taking on 4 or 5 players at a time before dispatching a pass or taking a shot. The youngster was unlucky not to get a goal and I expect will be in Appleton’s mind for the up and coming season


About Author

Aspiring sports journalist from Oxford. Also a lifelong supporter and season ticket holder of Oxford United. My job here is to supply brief match reports and player ratings of Oxford United players and the teams they oppose.