While Oxford United ’s strikers grabbed the attention as their United States tour ended with a 4-1 win, manager Chris Wilder was arguably more pleased by his side’s work ethic.
The U’s were convincing winners for the first time in pre-season, against the Jim Dedeus All Star XI.
But it was made more impressive by the fact it came just hours after the players had been put through an intense training session.
United had faded in the first two games on tour, conceding goals in the closing stages of both games, but the strong performance suggested the team were making progress.
Wilder said: “It was a competitive game again and I’m pleased we stood up to it. “Towards the end of tours, you have to be careful you don’t take your foot off the gas, because we’ve been out here
eight days and they’ve worked extremely hard. “The training in the morning was probably one of our toughest sessions.
“So to work as well as they did in that and then come and put the effort in during the game bodes well for the future.
“We had to work hard in terms of regaining possession, passing and creating chances – the major things in early pre-season. “We’ve done it again and the difference between the first two games.
“And the last one was we’ve been a touch more clinical around the box.”
The final 20 minutes saw Brad Hilton from Seacoast United Phantoms replace Damian Batt at right back.
It was a gesture of thanks to Seacoast, who organised the trip for the second summer in a row. Club founder Paul Willis said this week he was optimistic the link would one day see the U’s sign a
player from the US and Wilder was happy to give Hilton a chance.
He said: “Damian’s done well, but Brad came on and played well in the last 25 minutes. “As Paul said, who knows what the future holds in terms of what we can pick up from the relationship we’ve got
– the boy’s certainly got good technique.”