Season starts with a goal-less draw
Exeter City’s Under 18’s side started their league campaign with a 0-0 home draw against Hereford United last Saturday, reports Derek Baker.
The young Grecians will be bitterly disappointed they could not turn their dominance with the ball into goals, as they created more and produced the better of the chances.
Kamarl Duncan, Jason Pope and Matt Grimes all had good efforts to put the home side in front, but they rarely hit the target, with Hereford goalkeeper Kyle Moore a bystander for a lot of the game.
Tricky winger Watkins had a decent chance late on to win it, but after cutting in from the right wing, his goal-bound effort was blocked and smothered by Moore.
It summed up what proved to be a frustrating day for the Grecians, who, for large periods of the game, were comfortable in possession. However breaching United’s defence proved to be too difficult a task for a relatively inexperienced City side.
Grimes, captaining the side, created the first chance of the match with a floated free kick from the left hand side. It was met by towering centre back Duncan who could only send his header over the crossbar from close range. It was the lift City needed as they began to control the tempo of the game.
Grimes and Pope, along with fellow midfielder James Byrne all began to dictate play with their long range passing and keep-ball mentality.
However despite how comfortable Exeter were looking, they were still vulnerable at the back, and midway through the first half, smart work from defender Irvine Densu meant the scoreline remained goalless.
Densu, himself, then had an effort up at the other end of the pitch which went wide, whilst Watkins, who often linked up well with energetic right-back Sam Brown, saw a shot fly over the bar.
City’s intentions were clear from the start of the second half. They started brightly, with Watkins shot defecting wide and Duncan’s far-post header from the resulting corner flying just past the post.
However as the game opened up, more chances fell Exeter’s way. Lewis Morana forced Moore into his first meaningful save, when his deflected effort was top corner bound.
The shot-stopper’s outstretched hand enough to tip it around the post. Cameron Gill was introduced to add some energy up front for the Grecians whilst Hussein Heidari and Alex Byrne freshened up the spine of the team.
Grimes, putting in a captain’s performance, tried lifting his side as they searched for what was surely going to be the winner, whilst fellow central midfielder, Byrne, almost produced it from long-range with a shot only just going over.
Hussein saw a diving header deflected narrowly wide as City continued to press, and their counterparts happily sat back. One last chance fell to Watkins before the full time whistle blew.
Academy Manager Simon Hayward: “It’s a progressive step. It’s not the result we were hoping for but what we did was keep the ball quite well.
“What we now need to do is take that to the next level and find that final ball to present us with the chances we need to win these types of games."
City Lined Up: Christy Pym, Sam Brown, Kamarl Duncan, Irvine Densu, Conor Riley-Lowe, James Byrne, Matt Grimes, Jason Pope, Ollie Watkins, Lewis Morana & Matt Jay. Subs used: Hussein Heidari, Alex Byrne & Cameron Gill.