8:00am Monday 24th February 2014
By David Pritchard
Sam Long admitted Oxford United slipping to a late draw had taken the edge off his pride of making a full senior debut.
The 19-year-old had only made three substitute appearances for the first-team, but injuries and a suspension to Tom Newey forced a defensive reshuffle and he was handed a baptism of fire by starting away at Morecambe.
Long came under pressure from the home side, but the centre back did not look out of place.
It was a solid performance, but the Bicester teenager’s joy at contributing to the first-team was soured by Morecambe’s goal from close range in stoppage time.
He said: “Being 1-0 up and losing a late, scrappy goal is devastating.
“It’s mixed emotions, it was good to make my full league debut, but it would’ve been nice to get a win.
“We defended so well throughout the whole game and worked so hard.
“Then to lose a late goal to draw the game is really hard to take.”
The defender has had to be patient for his opportunity, but became the sixth player from United’s development squad to start a game this season.
Long benefitted from playing between the experienced Johnny Mullins and David Hunt, but did not look out of his depth.
And the youngster revealed there had been no problems with nerves after being given 48 hours to prepare.
He said: “The coaching staff told me on Thursday I was starting.
“I was more excited than nervous to get playing – I had a very good sleep on Friday night.
“I was just focused and all the boys around me were talking me through the game. “I felt really comfortable, it was just a very tough game.”
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