Exeter City’s Under-18s came through their final Youth Alliance South West division match in fine style with a 3-1 win against Bristol Rovers.
Despite a goalless first half, two goals at the start of the second period put the Grecians deservedly in control of the game.
Ben Chrisene initially scored seven minutes after the restart, before Harry Ford finished off a neat City move on 57 minutes.
Ford struck again to make it 3-0, before a consolation goal 12 minutes from the end saw the Pirates reduce the deficit, but do nothing in terms of altering the final result.
The Devon outfit started quickly, and applied plenty of pressure on their opponents during the opening phases to pin them back in their own half.
As a result of the aggressive pressing, Chad Gribble’s men created two decent scoring chances through Nelson Iseguan's crossing. The first saw a flick go just wide of the post, before the Gas goalkeeper intervened with a punch just before Jack Veale could head the ball home.
After the strong start from the Grecians, the Bristol club settled into the game themselves, and they enjoyed plenty of possession.
The good shape however from City without the ball meant Rovers were unable to get the ball in any dangerous positions, meaning more of the goal threats still came from Exeter on the counter-attack.
It remained deadlocked at 0-0 though when half-time came around, before the Pirates continued with their possession play after the break.
The Devonians, however, were unable to press their opponents high up as they had done at the beginning of the contest, which made it difficult for them to build anything.
But despite those troubles, they did open the scoring in the 52nd minute. Gribble’s side won the ball back in the middle third, before playing the ball down the right to Frank Lovett. The attacker drove his team forward before pulling a neat cut back into the centre towards Chrisene. The midfielder took one touch before finishing nicely past the goalie to make it 1-0.
That goal brought confidence to the Grecians ranks, and just five minutes later they netted again.
After winning back possession on the right side through Ellis Johnson, Lovett combined with Veale to move the team into a threatening position. Ford was then slid through on goal, and his neat toe poke put the ball beyond the keeper to double the advantage.
The match settled down following the second goal, and in spite of the Gas still seeing more of the ball, the third goal of the day went City's way.
Following a throw-in towards the left-back area, the ball got worked through the defence, before Alex Moyse played a stunning diagonal pass to Iseguan. The winger crossed for Ford to finish off the move and give Exeter a three-goal cushion in stunning fashion.
The Bristolians responded, and they managed to get on the scoresheet in the 78th minute with a well-worked goal of their own.
Following a break down the right, a reverse pass and quick centre saw Rovers react the quickest to turn the ball home setting up an uncomfortable final period for the Devon club.
However, some defensive changes and some resolute play saw Gribble’s men come through it without any more damage, to record a deserved victory full of learning opportunities for the young squad.
Exeter City under-18s coach Chad Gribble, said: “Unfortunately, for the majority of the game, we didn’t apply the pressure at the top end of the pitch as we did during the first 20 minutes. However, credit has to go to the players, because they managed to problem solve how to get around that issue themselves.
“Every time we did have the ball and went forward we looked a threat, and we took our chances well. It was certainly a productive day for the young side we put out there.
“It was a proper game of football, and what it taught our players was that things don’t always go your way. They came off disappointed at half-time that they weren’t 2-0 up through our good chances, but they kept going and found a solution. I explained that the opposition have a right to mess your game plan up, which Bristol Rovers did, but the players found an alternative way to get the result.
“I’m really pleased because Ellis Johnson played his first 90 minutes for a season and a half. He’s had two injuries since he’s been with us, but he was solid at full-back. Also, Rovers put out an older group than what we had out there, so the fact we competed against them will only give our players confidence looking towards the Merit League.
“We play Reading next weekend which will be a different type of test to this one, but we are going to face different challenges when we pay in the Merit League. We’ve managed to get over this one, so now we shall see if we can cope with a team with a different style of play. If we can get players more minutes, and more exposure then that will only put them in good stead for the upcoming weeks and months.”
Exeter City under-18s: Jack Arthur, Cheick Diabate, Alfie Pond, Ellis Johnson, Max Clark, Ben Chrisene, Alex Moyse, Jack Veale, Nelson Iseguan, Harry Ford, Frank Lovett. Subs: Michael Lilley, Harry Lee, Sonny Cox, Jamie Nicholson