Matt Jay, Irvine Densu & Ollie Watkins with the goals
Exeter City Under 18s recorded their first home win of the league campaign with a 3-1 victory over local rivals Bristol Rovers last Saturday, reports Derek Baker.
Goals from Matt Jay, (pictured) Irvine Densu and Ollie Watkins gave the young Grecians the result they merited against a youth side coached by former City striker Marcus Stewart.
Following their 0-0 draw last time out on home soil, Exeter proved to be a more potent force this time around, with their counterparts being the ones who spurned opportunities; Jamie Lucas with the solitary goal for the visitors.
However what the game demonstrated was how good a force this City side were going forward, and how costly for Rovers their missed opportunities were to be.
The Bristolians started brightly, and within two minutes they could have scored, only for Lucas to fire wide of the goal.
However the Pirates kept coming at Christy Pym in the Exeter goal, and for the 20 minutes, City were struggling to cope with the long balls played in behind their defence.
However full-backs Sam Brown and Conner Riley-Lowe were always looked keen to go forward, and it was the latter who created City’s first attack, advancing past two defenders before whipping in a low, teasing cross.
Matt Macey in the visitor’s goal spilt the ball into a dangerous area, however no white shirt could react to knock the ball into an open goal.
However it did spark the Grecians into life, and arguably, against the run of play, they took the lead just four minutes later.
Watkins, down the left wing, showed great skill to beat his man played the ball into striker Lewis Morana, who then found Jay on the edge of the area. The nippy attacker managed to make some space for himself and unleashed a low shot into the far bottom corner.
And just two minutes later, the Devonians were unlucky not to double their lead.
Captain Matt Grimes played a well weighted through ball into the path of Jay down the right hand side. His jinking run allowed him to cut inside and find the run of Watkins who arrowed a powerful strike from 18 yards which cannoned back off the near post.
Then just before the break, the home side scored their second when a deep free kick to the far post was met by defender Kamarl Duncan, and his header back across goal managed to find fellow centre-back Densu, who tapped in from close range.
Just three minutes into the second half, it was game back on when the persistent Laurent Davis-Wilson found fellow striker Lucas who fired low past Pym to bring the Gas back into the game.
Cameron Gill was introduced off the bench to add some new energy in attack for the home team as they looked at ways of halting the Rovers quest for an equaliser.
However Stewart’s boys should have levelled when Lucas found himself unmarked when he met a free kick but all the attacker could do though was head wide as the away side kept pushing forward.
Pym had to be alert on several occasions, saving well from Lucas once again, as well as midfielder Laurent Mando.
However the Grecians almost stopped the Bristol charge with a goal of their own. Riley-Lowe, once again advancing down the wing, found Watkins who in turn found centre-midfielder Jason Pope. The talisman let fly from the edge of the box and Macey did well to tip the effort over.
Watkins and Jay both had decent opportunities to put the game beyond Rovers, however with each chance missed by the Devon boys, it meant the young Pirates were still in with a chance of taking points off their rivals.
However that was until City’s third goal, and debatably the highlight of the game.
Watkins showed true grit and determination to win the ball back. His tackle led to the loose ball finding its way to substitute Alex Ryan who played the ball back to Watkins.
With the ball bouncing and sitting up nicely, the winger volleyed from the edge of the box into the far top corner with a shot that even two goalkeepers would’ve struggled with.
The goal sparked enormous celebrations from all the team as it wrapped up a massive victory for the team. After the match youth coach Wayne Carlisle said: “I have to complement the players’ ability to transfer what they learned on the training pitch over the past week into what they showed in the match today.
“We’ve worked hard over the past few weeks and it’s paid off as we were against a very good side today”
Exeter City Under 18s lined up: Christy Pym, Sam Brown, Kamarl Duncan, Irvine Densu, Connor Riley-Lowe, Matt Grimes, James Byrne, Jason Pope, Ollie Watkins, Lewis Morana and Matt Jay. Subs: Charlie Madden, Alex Byrne, Tom Fowler and Cameron Gill.