Exeter U18s 3 Swindon U18s 0
Exeter City’s under 18 side made it three consecutive wins on Friday with a comfortable 3-0 league victory over visitors Swindon Town. It was the first league fixture of the New Year for the youngsters, though many had featured in the St Lukes Bowl tie against Willand Rovers.
Goals from attacking duo Matt Jay and Ollie Watkins, as well as a late strike from substitute Josh Wadham, ensured the Grecians got the result that lifted them above their counterparts in the league table.
Strong performances were put in by all of the squad, with the goalkeeper and back four rewarded for their efforts with a third consecutive clean sheet.
Although, going forward the team looked capable of scoring every time they attacked, whilst the scoreline could have easily been higher had any luck had gone City’s well as well as their stronger ability.
The Devon outfit started the brighter with the starting XI exhorting their positive attitudes onto the game to get onto the front foot early on.
Jay and Watkins, starting together as strikers once again, looked lively and threatening – and their early efforts rewarded the home side with the crucial first goal on 15 minutes.
Watkins picked up possession in a dangerous position, and he played a through-ball to his strike partner Jay who slotted the ball coolly into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The goal continued to spur Exeter on, with everyone contributing well in attack and defence. Full-back Sam Brown provided tremendous energy down the right hand side whilst the captain Matt Grimes and fellow centre midfielder James Byrne were winning the battle in the middle of the park.
However despite their dominance, City could only go in at the break with a one-goal lead. A half-time discussion consisted largely of sticking to the initial game plan, and making sure the team reasserted their authority on the match.
Whilst the Robins came out looking for an equaliser, Kevin Nicholson’s boys looked threatening on the counter, breaking with sheer pace and precise passing that were creating numerous holes in the away side’s defence.
Though the Grecians continued to work hard without the ball also, keeping their defensive discipline and shape, and aiming to keep a clean sheet for the third game in a row.
And despite setting out trying to defend their precious lead, midway through the second period, the lead was doubled just past the hour mark thanks to the in-form Watkins.
After good play from Byrne in the centre of midfield, Jay received the ball from his playmaker who found Watkins 20 yards from goal. The striker bent a beautiful effort past the goalkeeper and found the corner of the net confirming the ascendency of the Grecians.
The confidence of the home team was boosted from the second goal, as changes were made to keep things going for City. The fresh legs proved to help as the play became more open and stretched, suiting the counter-attacking tactics Exeter had initiated.
And with seven minutes to play, the result was confirmed when a slick, team passing move rounded off a superb day at the office.
Grimes, influential as ever in the Grecian’s play, started the move and after neat play from Watkins and substitute Dean Billingsley, fellow replacement Josh Wadham found himself on the edge of the box and tucked home a low finish.
It confirmed the victory for Exeter City, who are now arguably the in-form side in the division after their string of three victories, all to nil, in a row.
Youth Team Coach Kevin Nicholson said: “It was a very impressive team performance where every player contributed well and worked really hard. We attacked with so much purpose and intent, and we could’ve scored a lot more than just the three goals. I’m delighted that the two strikers have netted once again.
“We defended as a team, and once again I am delighted with the efforts of all the players. Overall it was another good performance and win against a good side, and the fact we kept a clean sheet too, is of course, another positive to take.”
Exeter City U18’s
1 Christy Pym
2 Sam Brown
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 James Byrne
5 Kamarl Duncan
6 Irvine Densu
7 Jason Pope
8 Matt Grimes
9 Ollie Watkins
10 Matt Jay
11 Toby Gostling
12 Hussein Heidari
14 Josh Wadham
16 Dean Billingsley