Exeter City’s under-18s conceded a goal with just nine minutes remaining to take a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw away to Portsmouth last weekend.
After a goalless first half, Josh Key handed the Devon club the lead on 51 minutes with a thumping header.
However, after applying a large amount of pressure onto the City goal, Portsmouth found an equaliser as the game approached the final moments with a far post effort.
Despite the disappointment of letting the lead slip in the latter stages, the draw still means that Dan Green and his squad are now six games unbeaten across all competitions, establishing themselves as a team hard to beat, even when they may not be at their best.
With confidence high in camp following a 1-0 win over the MK Dons in the Youth Alliance Cup, the Grecians arrived in Hampshire hoping to secure three points to lift themselves towards the top end of the league table.
The match though provided some tough playing conditions, with the grass on the pitch making it hard to string passes together and add a dynamic tempo to the game.
Despite the away side creating a few openings for Key, both sides created very little during a first period that failed to produce in not just chances, but quality too.
However, a lively start in the second period saw the Devon outfit string a few effective moves together.
The second period was just six minutes old when the deadlock was broken. Sam Haynes provided some good work down the right wing, and his cross was met by Key, who headed the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
The visitors could have doubled the lead later on in the half when Joel Randall was sent through. However, the Pompey goalkeeper saved well to keep his team well in the contest.
Off the back of the decent chance for the Exeter midfielder, Portsmouth grew into the game, and grew in confidence.
After building pressure and missing with a couple of openings for their forwards, their attacking spell in the game finally brought a goal on 81 minutes.
After some good play down one wing, the ball was crossed, before it was squeezed home at the far post through a number of bodies to level the scores.
Both teams had to settle for the 1-1 draw, with Green’s men the slightly more disappointed when a victory was within sight.
Exeter City under-18s coach, Dan Green: “We were slightly slow to react to the pitch and the conditions. We needed to be more flexible with our approach as the conditions made it difficult to execute the complete game plan.
“I felt we were slow in our thinking and decision-making, and we didn’t quite do enough to deserve the three points. In all honesty, we weren’t at our best today.
“We have got to be better at seeing a game out and keeping a clean sheet. We need to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch.
“I was hoping for more in our performance. Ultimately we need to be better. We’ve had a decent response from the lads this week in training, and against Oxford United next time out we’ll be aiming to put things right.”
Exeter City under-18s: Felix Norman, Sam Haynes, Jordan Dyer, Josh Hancock, Joe O’Laughlin, Harry Kite, Mitch Thomas, Jack Sparkes, Joel Randall, James Dodd, Josh Key. Subs not used: Lewis Williams, Josh Williams, Brandon Parsons, Lucas White, Will Dean