SACO, ME - Oxford United opened their American tour with a win on Tuesday night as they beat the Seacoast United Mariners 2-1 at Thornton Academy in Saco, ME.
Deane Smalley was the man of the moment once again as he netted his third goal in three games with a calmly taken penalty in the first half, while Sean Rigg will be pleased with his eventual game winner in the 2nd half.
In front of a crowd of 600+, United dominated most of the game against a young American side, who grabbed a late consolation goal from Nick George (Bangor ME/Maine Maritime), but the U’s full deserved another encouraging win.
Oxford began the match with a pace that the Mariners quickly needed to adjust to, and they did as they challenged with tough tackles and winning 50/50 balls in their defensive third.
Striker Sean Rigg was impressive with some direct running up front alongside James Constable but it was Smalley who grabbed the opener on 40 minutes when Forster-Caskey was again upended in the box and this time earned the U’s a spot-kick. Smalley could hardly have been more nonchalant, side-footing the ball into the right hand corner of the net like a striker playing with tons of confidence and never even contemplating the possibility of missing.
United continued to look easy on the eye in the second half with Forster-Caskey having two efforts saved by Mariners goalkeeper Will Pike (Gorham ME/St Joseph’s) and Rigg planting two efforts narrowly wide, but the hosts upped their game and forced Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke to make two decent saves from Mariners striker Eddie Jones (Scarborough ME/Bowdoin College) to preserve the clean sheet.
Rigg did capitalize however, in looping home a fine volley from Batt’s right wing cross on 83 minutes to make it 2-0.
The Mariners had been perfect hosts on and off the pitch with the game played in great spirits and the home side got their reward in the 87th as Nick George made it 2-1 with a low drive that left Clarke with no chance at all.
This was a fantastic opportunity for the Seacoast United Mariners players, as well as their young fans. Prior to the game, families hosted tailgate barbeques in the parking lot as the thunderstorms subsided. At halftime, the festive atmosphere continued as the field was flooded with children for a "kick-about" while the two teams discussed their adjustments prior to the start of the 2nd half.
The U’s will now take on the Seacoast United Phantoms on Friday night in their next match. Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, NH. Tickets are available online by clicking here