Exeter City’s under-18s secured another three points in the Youth Alliance South West division last Saturday, with the Grecians triumphing 6-3 in an eventful game against Yeovil Town.
It was Town took the lead on 10 minutes, before parity was restored by the hosts through Jack Sparkes’ header.
After half-time, a swift Glovers break meant the score changed again on 50 minutes, before Sparkes buried his second of the match to make it 2-2.
Sparkes completed his hat-trick on 62 minutes, but the away side came back and tied the game up with 23 minutes still remaining.
Sparkes got a fourth goal for Exeter six minutes later, before late strikes from Jordan Dyer and Will Dean completed the scoring.
Before the match, City’s intentions were to strengthen their chances of finishing top of the league standings, whilst Yeovil were looking for their first victory over Dan Green’s men at the third time of asking.
The match was only 10 minutes old when the visitors made good use of the ball, and opened the scoring. After working the ball to the left-hand side, the Glovers’ full-back struck a sweet shot into the corner from 25 yards to make it 1-0.
The set-back didn’t affect the home team though and just four minutes later the teams were level. Dean’s corner was met by Sparkes, who lost his marker to bury his header beyond the goalkeeper.
Both teams traded chances for the rest of the half, but nothing was taken. However, the second half was a different story, with plenty of chances being taken by both sides.
The Glovers took the lead again five minutes into the second period when they stole the ball from the hosts’ midfield, before counter-attacking and bearing down on Felix Norman’s goal. The keeper did well to save Town’s initial effort, but the rebound was slotted home making it 2-1.
The response from Exeter’s youngsters was quick once again. Joel Randall worked some space for himself and squared the ball to Sparkes, who tapped home his second of the game.
On 62 minutes, the Devon outfit took the lead for the first time. Mitch Thomas sent a through ball over the top to Sparkes, who completed his hat-trick by sliding his effort home.
However, back came the away team with a header from a corner. Yeovil’s efforts in squaring the game perhaps took it’s toll, as the league leaders didn’t dwell on the conceded effort and attacked with intention once again.
After 73 minutes, Sparkes grabbed his, and his team’s, fourth goal. Good work from the ever-lively Randall saw the midfielder dance his way into the box before forcing the goalkeeper into a fine stop and Sparkes who converted the follow-up to put City in control once again.
That control led to Green’s men finding a fifth with 13 minutes to play. Sparkes won a spot-kick following a foul inside the penalty box but Dean saw his attempt tipped round the post and out for a corner. The resulting set-piece saw centre-back Josh Hancock win the aerial duel, leaving Dyer to smash home the loose ball to make it 5-3.
The scoring was complete five minutes later when James Dodd dribbled his way into the area, before tumbling under the challenge from the Yeovil goalkeeper. The referee gave the home team their second penalty, and Dean made no mistake this time, by smashing the ball home.
Exeter City under-18s coach, Dan Green: “For a team that we had beaten twice already this season, credit to Yeovil they came out and were motivated to do well against us. Unlike the previous match, we finished this game well and perhaps didn’t start as good which was the complete opposite to the Portsmouth game.
“We weren’t great at recognising what was needed during some moments in the game, but we were never more than one goal behind. A positive to come out of the game was our reaction to the goals, and in the end, it ended up being relatively comfortable for us.
“The players are pleased to win, but from a coach’s point of view, we wanted more from them. The players recognise that they need to be better, and they are doing everything they can to make themselves better for next time.
“Overall it was pleasing to get the win, but the players are realistic and looking to better themselves in spite of the three points. We have another tough test for us next time when we travel to Oxford United."
Exeter City under-18s: Felix Norman, Josh Hancock, Jordan Dyer, Sam Haynes, Joe O’Loughlin, Will Dean, Mitch Thomas, Joel Randall, James Dodd, Josh Key, Jack Sparkes. Subs: Lewis Williams, Josh Williams, Joe Belston, Harry Kite, Lucas White