Exeter City’s under-18s lost 2-1 at the Cat & Fiddle in a top-of-the-table clash with AFC Bournemouth.
Despite taking the lead with a neat Ollie Watkins goal, the Hampshire outfit displayed a determined second half showing to turn the game around with two strikes of their own to claim the vital three points.
And it was they, the visitors, who started the brighter with a strong opening 10 minutes. Looking particularly creative down the flanks, dangerous crosses were dealt with well by the Grecians’ defence; Charlie Madden in particular proving to be a rock in the centre of the back four.
And with Exeter forcing their way back into the game, they scored the opening goal. Watkins and strike partner Matt Jay combined to devastating effect to allow the former to round the goalkeeper and place the ball into the bottom corner.
It sparked Lee Skyrme’s side into life, with Toby Down and Jason Pope both going close to extending the Westcountry side’s lead.
However the Cherries weren’t out of the match, and after firing a few attempts just wide, James Hamon in the City goal had to be at his very best to keep the score at 1-0.
Jay, Watkins and captain Connor Riley-Lowe all had attempts of their own as the half drew to a close with the hosts looking good for their 1-0 lead.
Though half-time came at the wrong time for the Devon club, as the momentum switched in Bournemouth’s favour.
The game should have become level as the Cherries’ attacker wriggled free of his defender and flashed a volley over, however soon after, the match did become all-square.
From a rare attack for the home team during the second period, the Cherries counter-attacked quickly, which led to their winger cutting inside and curling a precise finish inside the far post to level proceedings.
Wave after wave of attacks were coming at the Exeter goal, and the back four were holding firm, but the pressure told midway through the second half. Despite the home defence clearing their lines once again, the loose ball fell to the opposing midfielder, whose clean strike from 20 yards arrowed into the bottom corner to complete the comeback.
It spurred the Grecians back into life, and after substitutions were made for both teams, the last 15 minutes saw Exeter trying to find a leveller of their own.
Cameron Gill came agonisingly close as he volleyed over from six yards, whilst Jay’s shot proved to be too weak to fly past the Bournemouth shot-stopper.
As the clock ticked past the 90 minute mark, there was to be one more chance for Skyrme’s boys, and but for a last-minute crucial tackle on substitute Joe Charles, the game may have ended honours-even.
However the final whistle blew, and unfortunately the Grecians were unlucky to lose in a very compelling football match.
Exeter City U18
1 James Hamon
2 Hussein Heidari
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 James Byrne
5 Charlie Madden
6 Toby Down
12 Alex Byrne
8 Jason Pope
9 Cameron Gill
10 Matt Jay
11 Ollie Watkins
14 Josh Read
16 Toby Gostling
17 Joe Charles