Exeter City’s under-18s returned to winning ways in the Youth Alliance South West division with an emphatic 4-0 victory away at Yeovil Town on Saturday.
Despite an early scare, it was a quick start from the young Grecians, who scored after just four minutes courtesy of James Dodd.
Just three minutes later, A Trialist doubled the Devon club’s lead, before Dodd netted his second of the afternoon on 18 minutes, converting a loose ball following a goalkeeper save. The scoring was completed in 34th minute when Cheick Diabate converted from close range following a set-piece.
Despite facing a high-flying Yeovil side, the away team started brightly, and although the Glovers created the opening opportunity, it didn’t faze the Exeter youngsters.
With just two minutes the clock, a misplaced pass from the Grecians allowed the hosts to counter-attack, resulting in Town flashing a shot just past the post.
However, soon after, City created their first chance, which they were to take in decisive fashion.
Defender Jordan Dyer played the ball into the middle, where Dodd and Charlie Lawrence combined. The latter slid the ball back into Dodd’s path, and the playmaker fired an effort across the home keeper and into the back of the net to break the deadlock.
The quickfire goal really gave the visitors belief, and just minutes later they doubled their advantage to increase the pressure on their opponents.
Following a Yeovil clearance, City’s youngsters were able to tidy the ball up and mount another onslaught onto the Glovers’ goal. From the midfield area, Lawrence was able to pick out his striker, and A Trialist finished well to make it 2-0.
Gribble’s men were well in control of proceedings, and their dominance was reflected in the scoreline when on 18 minutes they scored their third of the match.
After working the ball down the left wing, Lawrence teamed up with A Trialist, before the forward saw a shot saved by the home shot-stopper. Following up, Dodd reacted first to the rebound to stroke the ball home to give his side a three-goal cushion.
A dominant first-half display led to the away team scoring once more before the interval.
Lawrence delivered an inviting corner where Will Dean was unfortunate to see his header kept out by the Town goalkeeper. With the shot- stopper still on the floor, centre-back Diabate smashed in the loose ball to make it 4-0.
In spite of some more neat possession play by Exeter during the final 15 minutes of the first period, the scoreline remained the same when the referee blew for half-time.
As expected, after the restart, the home side came out with a real intent, changing their approach as they searched for a goal to help get them back into the contest.
Yeovil enjoyed a decent spell of pressure at the start of the second half, and they increased the pressure exerted onto the Grecians’ penalty box.
The Glovers saw plenty of the ball, particularly in their own half, and with the Devon side happy to sit back and invite their opponents onto them, it meant they were soon back on top of the game again once they got through the home side's bright period.
As the half wore on, further chances fell the way of the visitors. Jordan Dyer squandered a chance from a corner, whilst substitute Theo Simpson struck the post with an effort.
A good defensive structure from City ensured they kept their clean sheet, and with no change to the scoreline as the game drew to a close, it meant the four goals scored here resulted in three well-earned points for Gribble and his players to take back to the Westcountry.
Exeter City under-18s coach Chad Gribble, said: “It was a great start to the game. This match had everything I feel our performance from last week was missing. We were hard-working, quick on the ball, with good intentions. It was an excellent first 30 minutes, combined with a mature performance in the final 15 minutes of the half.
“The big danger when you are leading by such a margin at half-time is that you can take your foot off the gas like we did against Forest Green Rovers recently, but this time I thought we managed the game well in the second period.
“I feel this was certainly up there with one of our most complete performances this season. The biggest thing was once again finding the habits that are so important in a match. It is probably the hardest I’ve seen the teamwork, so combining that with their effort and commitment gives us a platform to perform well.
“Credit has to go to the players. They were brilliant in the week leading up to the game, and we knew if we replicated that on the pitch, we would give ourselves a good chance of getting a good result. This win proves we can compete with the teams towards the top end of the table if the mindset and application is right.
“Our boys can’t take their foot off just because of this result. Having a mentality where they are fighting for something suits us, and that has got to be our mindset again if we want to grab our chances. We have got to do it again for our next match against North County. They may be towards the bottom of the table, but there are no easy games in this league and we know it will be another tough contest for us.”
Exeter City Under-18s: Felix Norman, Jordan Dyer, Cheick Diabate, Joe Belsten, Max Clark, Louis Morison, Will Dean, Charlie Lawrence, Nelson Iseguan, James Dodd, A Trialist. Subs: Jack Arthur, Jack Stafford, Theo Simpson, Lewis Wilson, Jay Stansfield