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FOOTBALL: Yemi strikes twice to stake claim
Oxford United boss Jim Smith is hoping to develop Yemi Odubade into a 90-minute player after his sensational entrance as a substitute at Eastleigh on Wednesday night.
Odubade staked a strong claim with a stunning two-goal show to be one of the U's strikers when they kick-off the new season in the Conference on August 12.
United were trailing to a first-half goal from their Conference South opponents when Odubade arrived as one of three subs on the hour.
Nine minutes later, he had struck twice in two minutes to turn the game around.
His equaliser came from a superbly-threaded pass by Phil Gilchrist, which Rob Duffy dummied for Odubade to run through and slot past keeper Paul Musselwhite.
That was on 67 minutes, and in the 69th, he latched on to Guinea triallist Mo Lamine's pass and left former United defender Matt Bound for dead before drilling home a low shot.
Smith said afterwards: "Yemi's got pace and he's a good finisher. We have got to find a way so he can last 90 minutes. He is still a 20-minute player.
"He took the goals well, and he's done that almost every time, to be fair. When he comes on with his pace he frightens people."
This was the second of United's pre-season friendlies, and although questions remain about their lack of a striker with presence, there were many encouraging aspects in a useful workout at the Silverlake Stadium, the length of a runway away from Southampton Airport.
Andy Burgess's class stood out in the early stages with some of his vision and touches.
Smith used the former Rushden midfielder just behind main striker Duffy in a 3-5-1-1 formation that allowed him plenty of freedom.
Right wingback Eddie Anaclet also showed plenty of skill, nutmegging an opponent on one silky dribble towards the near post before his cross was turned out for a corner.
Eastleigh, who had former Oxford striker Jefferson Louis in their ranks after he signed from Woking earlier in the day, took the lead on 33 minutes.
The poorly-marked Dave Town lashed the ball into the net from Brian Dutton's header at a free-kick.
The U's almost levelled just before the break when Eddie Hutchinson's fierce header from a corner was cleared off the line.
Triallist Matt Day gave an impressive showing at right-sided centre back, and Smith revealed that United have offered the former Newbury and Portsmouth player a contract for the season.
Smith was pleased with the run-out.
"We knew it was a step up in level and that's how it was," he said.
"It was ideal for us, a good competitive work out. Our main worry was our finishing in the first half which wasn't very good because we could have been three up. I was very pleased with John Dempster in the holding role."
Eastleigh: Musselwhite, Dodd (Green 62), Oliver (Thomas 62), Dutton, Bound, James, Smith, Forbes (Dutton 70), Louis, Town, Wheeler (Jarvis 62).
Oxford Utd: Turley (Tardif HT), Anaclet, Day, Quinn (Willmott 60), Gilchrist, Johnson, Hutchinson (Odubade 60), Dempster, Hargreaves, Burgess (Pettefer 60), Duffy.
Former Oxford United winger Chris Hackett is joining Millwall, who were relegated to League One last season, from Hearts, becoming Nigel Spackman's 11th signing of the summer.
The 23-year-old joined Hearts from Oxford in January when Graham Rix was boss at Tynecastle, but he made just two appearances.
Oxford United's pre-season friendly at Milton United tonight was called off on Tuesday.
The main pitch at Milton Heights, where United also have their training base, is considered not yet good enough for a competitive match after remedial work.