Oxford United Stars. . . . . . . . 4
Roe Rovers, Limavady . . . . . . .0
HOT ON the heels of last weekend’s victory, Oxford United Stars will have approached last Saturday’s Intermediate league fixture with confidence.
However, after just three minutes at the Brandywell, that confidence could have evaporated as the Derry side struggled to settle.
And when Rovers broke with Henderson directing his shot wide when well placed, Oxford were stunned into action.
Indeed, Paul Roddy’s charges began to find their feet with Lee Roddy dropping deep to dictate the play and this gave confidence to Cleere and the returning Villa who has been recently absent in the Oxford midfield.
Rovers appeared to drop deeper into their own half with each passing minute as Oxford took complete control of the middle third, but for all their control, Oxford failed to seriously penetrate the Rovers back-line.
But that changed in the 28th minute when the home side got their breakthrough their patience deserved.
Cleere and Hargan linked up on the edge of the area before the latter found the run of Roddy into the penalty area and struggling to find the space to shoot, the Oxford forward dribbled his way into the danger area before he was brought crashing down to earth by O’Kane and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Roddy dusted himself down and slotted the penalty beyond the helpless O’Brien.
Roe Rovers had been limited to set-piece situations but they could have equalised in the 34th minute but Mullan’s effort crashed against the upright.
Roe Rovers manager, Michael Cooke, shuffled his pack at half-time with the introduction of new signing, Tony Clyde, adding further presence to the forward line,
But it was Oxford who impressed in the second half as teenager Emmett Hargan, on the back of his selection for the Northern Ireland U17 squad for upcoming friendlies against Czech Republic, beginning to become prominent.
And in the 67 minute Oxford deservedly doubled their lead. Roddy found Devine his first touch found Cleere who swivelled to create a yard of space before despatching his shot to the far corner of the net.
Within one minute of the restart Oxford scored again to basically end this game as a contest.
Roddy found Cleere who sent Hargan scampering forward he he finished with aplomb.
With the game won, the Oxford management took the opportunity to give more of the club’s teenagers experienced at intermediate level and the youngsters joined their slightly older team-mates in exhibiting flowing, passing football which forced their opponents to sit deep and reserve their pride.
But Oxford netted their fourth goal which was fashioned by a flowing move involving McCreadie, Boyle and Cleere. That said, Hasson managed to intercept the danger but in his attempts to clear the danger, the ball struck the body of a defender, before dropping into the path of Crossan who gleefully drove it to the net.
Oxford manager Paul Roddy declared his delight at his side’s second half performance: “In the first half we were alright and while we might have held back a bit in search of the second goal, we were excellent in the second half.
“Overall, our general play at times was first class with Emmett Hargan, Lee Roddy, Ryan Cleere and Darren Crossan adding flair and they complemented each other. It was nice to watch,” he added.
And on young Hargan’s call-up to the N. Ireland squad, Roddy heaped praise on the teenager suggesting that it was his dedication to training as the reason for his return to international football. “Since early December, Emmett has been training consistently four or five days per week and he is reaping the reward.
“It’s no great surprise to us as we believe he is one of the brightest local prospects and we hope to assist his progressive development as a quality young player,” he concluded.
Oxford United Stars - McNeill; McGarrigle (Deehan, 77), Loughrey, K. Roddy, McCreadie; Crossan, Cleere, Villa (McConnellogue, 74), Devine; L. Roddy, Hargan (Boyle. 74).
Subs. not used: McLaughlin and Anderson.
Roe Rovers - O’Brien; Carmichael, Hasson, McDonald, McGonigle (Barr, 73); Mulgrew (Nicholl, 63), O’Kane, Hamilton (Clyde, 45), Logue; Henderson, Mullan.
Referee - Noel Crossan (Derry)