Cherries go top with resounding win
Injury-hit AFC Bournemouth under-18s made a statement of intent after beating Oxford United 5-2 in a top-of-the-table clash.
The teams were level on points and separated only by goal difference ahead of the fixture, but the Cherries drove into pole position after claiming all three points.
Despite missing several key players, including captain Nathan Moriah-Welsh, Connor Kurran-Browne, Brooklyn Genesini and Billy Terrell, they turned on the style and forged into a 5-0 lead.
The stellar performance was highlighted by goals from Harvey Bertrand, Euan Pollock, Ben Greenwood and a brace from Jack Wadham.
The Cherries dominated for long periods and were only denied a second successive clean sheet when Oxford netted two late consolation goals.
It only took the hosts seven minutes to take the lead over the U’s after Luke Gray’s corner from the training ground eventually found Bertrand at the far post who tapped home only his third goal of the season.
Alan Connell’s side continued their early rhythm with a superb team goal that came from playing out the back.
Luke Pardoe played an inch-perfect ball for Pollock who finished the flowing move past Max Evans from just outside the six-yard box to mark his eighth goal of the season.
Christian Saydee was unlucky not to extend the lead when his curled shot ricocheted off the crossbar and a backheeled attempt a minute later almost beat the keeper from inside the six-yard box.
However, the lead was stretched in the 36th minute after some excellent play from the right flank allowed Tarik Gidaree to set up Wadham who fired the ball into the bottom left corner just inside the penalty area.
Wadham completed the brace just before the hour mark after skipper Saydee rattled the crossbar for a second time and the ball found its way to Wadham who drilled his shot into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.
The Cherries were in full control and Greenwood got his name onto the scoresheet as part of another tremendous piece of teamwork after winning the ball back in midfield.
He slotted his effort into the bottom right corner from close range to make it five for the Cherries against their top of the table opponents in the 63rd minute.
Oxford were gifted a goal in the 82nd minute when Jack Stevens pounced on a loose pass and slotted the ball past Joe Besant.
Five minutes later, the visitors grabbed another consolation through captain Viktor Milton.
Cherries: Besant, Gidaree (Roberts, h-t), Greenwood, Wadham, Channell (Seddon, 83), Bertrand, Pardoe (Adams, 17), Gray, Pollock (Williams, 66), Saydee (Murray, 79), Oliver.