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Kick off 11:00 (UK)

10 February 2024 Venue Unavailable Attendance

Kick off 11:00 (UK)

Newport County U18
3 - 1
Exeter City U18
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Match Reports

📝 Under-18 Report: Newport County 3 City 1

Derek Baker

19 February 2024

Exeter City’s Under-18s suffered a 3-1 defeat away at Newport County U18s last weekend in their final fixture of this season's Youth Alliance South West division.

After a goalless first half, the Exiles took the lead five minutes into the second period, before they doubled their lead a quarter of an hour later.

Tom Dean halved the deficit for the Grecians, however, the Welsh club secured the victory with a third goal in the 80th minute.

The result leaves City’s youngsters fifth in the standings, however, with Bristol Rovers U18s and Oxford United U18s due to play one another this coming weekend, the Devonians will have to wait and see where they end up finishing come Saturday afternoon.

Exeter’s youth team travelled up the M5 with the hope that they could finish their league campaign strongly, and put themselves in the best position to qualify for Merit League One for the second half of the season.

Scott Simmons returned to the heart of the defence for the visitors, while the engine room consisted of Jake Richards, Giulio Marroni and George Birch.

Set the challenge to begin the game quickly despite the early start and long journey.  While the Grecians enjoyed lots of the ball, they were unable to hit the levels the players and coaches had desired, nor take full control of proceedings.

While City looked calm and collected in possession, it was evident early on that their assuredness on the ball could only take them so far up the pitch, and when it came to the final pass, a lack of precision meant they were unable to really open up the County defence, or test the goalkeeper.

The Devon outfit’s bright movement and encouraging patterns of play went on as the first period grew older, however, the weight of key passes meant they were unable to carve open as many opportunities that their approach play warranted. 

When both sides went into the interval, the Exeter coaches didn’t need to request for any tactical improvements from their players, but, a demand for a cleaner execution in the attacking areas of the pitch.

And that brought a response from the away team, as they came out in the second half re-energised, which saw them press higher, and look more threatening thanks to their build-up speed.

But a few errors from the Grecians meant the momentum swung back in Newport's favour shortly after, and just five minutes after the restart, the hosts broke the deadlock as they took full advantage of their positive spell.

The Exiles remained on top in the aftermath, and just before the midway point of the second period they netted again to make it 2-0.

City were slow to respond to the setbacks and to get a foothold once again in the contest. They continued with some very neat approach play, the Devonians struck back with a goal from Dean in the 70th minute as a reward for his attacking intent, work rate and endeavour.

Exeter were unable to seize the moment and really kick on from there as they were constantly falling to the offside rap of the hosts. The bench was utilised as they attempted to take advantage of their opponent's high line, however, the visitors were wasteful when opportunities did come their way.

That meant the Welshmen were able to hold onto their advantage, and they managed to seal the game 10 minutes from time after the Grecians threw more bodies forward in the search of an equaliser.

The defeat here means the Exeter youngsters finish this campaign with 20 points, and with Bristol Rovers and Oxford both sat on 18 points apiece, only a draw in the Gas and Yellows clash will mean City will qualify for Merit League One.  

Exeter City’s Under-18s Assistant Coach, Chris McPhee: “It was one of those games where I think if our execution was better, it may have produced a different occasion. We all know the importance of capitalising when you are on top, and in that first half, we had lots of possession but were unable to find a way through.

"Part and parcel of the roles we have at the club is to prep these players for the next level. We try and emphasise to the boys it is important to control the controllable, and not let other things affect them. There was a lot of gamesmanship by our opponents today which disrupted the flow of the game and frustrated the players. It's key for our players to focus more on their individual jobs. We want the players to focus on being brilliant at what they’re supposed to be brilliant at, whether that is scoring goals, creating goals, stop goals or control games. 

“We are expecting a two or three-week break as there’re still a few results to come in before the league is completed. In the meantime, we have friendly matches with Stoke City and Plymouth Argyle lined up.

“Going forward, we want to continue to help provide opportunities for the young lads. We are not afraid of them stepping into the fold, and U15 Harry Appleton made his debut for the Under-18s here. In the second half of the season, it is important the players are getting as many minutes as they possibly can at the level they require to continue their progression. It is a balancing act, ensuring players get opportunities and encouraging the players to utilise their game time and work on the training pitch.”

Exeter City Under-18s: Dan Layer, Louie Cayless, Scott Simmons, Max Edgecombe, Liam Oakes, Tom Dean, Giulio Marroni, Jake Richards, George Birch, Callum Graham, Theo Cutler

Subs: Liam Cartwright, Tobias Alsop, Sam Down, Aidan Bown, Harry Appleton

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