Grecians empty-handed from Plymouth trip
Exeter City Under-18s suffered a 2-1 defeat away to fierce rivals Plymouth Argyle, in a game which they were in charge of for large periods.
On 26 minutes, with City looking in control, the prolific Matt Jay opened the scoring after good work from fellow attacker Ollie Watkins.
However two late goals from Argyle meant Exeter left empty-handed, when even a draw was within their grasp.
Having lost to their local enemies 3-0 not too long ago in the Cup competition, the young Grecians went all out to try and avenge that defeat with a win here.
Throughout the week leading up to the crucial game, the importance of the first goal was drilled into the mindset of City side, and they started the match very much on the front foot.
Watkins and Jay, both starting in the advanced roles of the Exeter side, were bright and created numerous opportunities early on. The latter came closest when he flashed a shot just wide.
However Jay didn’t let that early miss bother him, as midway through the first period he made the breakthrough.
Watkins typified his determined performance with a great solo run, leaving defenders in his wake, and unleashed a shot which the goalkeeper could only parry. On hand was Matt Jay who controlled the ball on his chest and finished decisively.
It was a goal the visitors merited, as they comfortably controlled the tempo of the game, playing some decent football at times.
Kamarl Duncan, an early substitute for the injured Jason Pope, and captain Matt Grimes were on top in the midfield battle, combining well with both with the strikers as they continued to press forward.
However the visitors went in the happier as is remained 1-0 at the break, with City looking the better of the teams and looking the more likely to score again.
And they started the second half in much the same manner, again looking dangerous in possession, in particular on the counter attack.
Josh Wadham on the right wing gave Exeter some great width, and provided some dangerous crosses for the strikers to feed on as they searched for a second goal.
The Grecians also looked comfortable in defence, as Irvine Densu helped organise a solid back four, with full-backs Sam Brown and Connor Riley-Lowe also assisting the attacking moves down both flanks.
However a lapse in concentration at the back let the home side back in it on 84 minutes. Poor marking from the City defence allowed the Plymouth striker to head the ball home from a corner.
And with the equaliser came the shift in momentum. Argyle gained more of the ball, dictated the play and started to see more of the 50-50 decisions come their way.
And as the Pilgrims pushed, they got their reward when a mazy run from the Plymouth attacker beat both centre-backs, and he was able to squeeze home a finish past Christy Pym in the City goal.
It was harsh on a side that played so well for the majority of the game, however the response from City will now be crucial, as they reflect on what may have been against their bitter rivals.
Youth Team Coach Kevin Nicholson said: “It’s a real shame because I thought we deserved to win that match. We gave them a far better game than we did in the Cup match not too long ago.
“However I must say I am still pleased with the team performance, and with the improvements the boys have made, and hopefully we will be able to see the result come our way next time around.”
1 Christy Pym
2 Sam Brown
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 Tom Gostling
5 Irvine Densu
6 Hussein Heidari
7 Josh Wadham
8 Matt Grimes
9 Ollie Watkins
10 Matt Jay
11 Jason Pope
12 Kamarl Duncan
14 Jamie Harkness
15 Joe Charles