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Oxford United open tour with victory
Seacoast United Mariners 1 Oxford United 2
GOALS from Deane Smalley and Sean Rigg got Oxford United’s US tour off to a winning start on a muggy night in Maine.
Smalley made it three goals in as many pre-season games with a first half penalty.
United could easily have been three or four goals up at the break, but they had to wait until a well-taken strike from the lively Rigg late on to double their advantage.
The Mariners became more of a threat as the game wore on and Nick George claimed a consolation for their efforts three minutes from time.
United boss Chris Wilder named a strong line-up, with Lee Cox making his first start since joining on loan from Swindon Town.
The visitors took the game by the scruff of the neck from the opening minutes, carving out a procession of clear chances.
Michael Raynes should have put the U’s in front on six minutes. Rigg’s corner was flicked on by Smalley, but the defender blazed over from six yards.
Rigg was at the heart of most good moments and he was the first to test Mariners’ goalkeeper Will Pike. The winger was put through by Jake Forster-Caskey, who was again impressive in midfield, and his low shot was turned round the post.
Constable was the next to be denied by the busy goalkeeper, who blocked after the striker had controlled a cross from Rigg.
Simon Heslop also fizzed a shot wide in a dominant opening 20 minutes for the tourists.
The Mariners gradually eased their way into the game, although apart from stemming the flow of United attacks they lacked a cutting edge up front.
Rigg missed a glorious chance to open the scoring, missing from eight yards, but the breakthrough arrived five minutes from the break.
Forster-Caskey was tripped in the box, winning a penalty which Smalley coolly converted, sending Pike the wrong way.
Seacoast’s best chance came on the stroke of half time, when substitute Sam White blasted over with a shot on the turn.
Rigg deserved a goal for his efforts and the summer signing came agonisingly close to doubling the lead early in the second half. On both occasions his effort beat Pike, but rolled the wrong side of the post.
United, perhaps understandably due to their 3,000-mile journey yesterday, faded as the game wore on and were unable to exert the same sustained pressure.
U’s goalkeeper Ryan Clarke had to wait until the hour mark to be tested. When it came the 30-year-old was alert to keep out a terrific 20-yard strike from Kiarnan McCormach.
Eddie Jones also had a clear sight of goal midway through the half, but he shot wide when well placed.
United still carried a goal threat and seven minutes from time the second goal finally arrived.
A corner was cleared only as far as Damian Batt, whose cross was steered into the top corner by Rigg.
The strike ensured United won the game, but the Mariners had the final word by pulling a goal back three minutes from time.
A low cross was turned in past Nick George, whose sweet strike gave Clarke no chance.
United are next in action on Friday night, when they play Seacoast United Phantoms.
Oxford: Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi (Tafazoli 84), Heslop, Cox (Harris 67), Forster-Caskey, Rigg, Constable, Smalley (Craddock 74)
Unused subs: Brown, Evans
Seacoast: Pike, Lynch, Fitzpatrick, Davis, Lucas, Bloom, Brewster, Nabi, Rand, Reilly, Houghton
Subs: Booth, Cox, Warren, Jones, George, Eldridge, Wright, McCormach Referee: Benjamin Larason Attendance: 624