Midfielder delighted with Under-21 victory
Following Exeter City’s Under-21 Premier League Cup tie with Southampton, midfielder David Wheeler was understandably ecstatic with the way the match panned out as the Grecians claimed a 2-0 victory.
Exeter had to work hard for the victory, but the performance was certainly easy on the eye as the team played with the kind of verve and swagger for which their reputation is growing all the time.
“All the boys are really chuffed,” said Wheeler. “I thought we worked really, really hard as a team. But I don’t think they caused us that many problems to be honest – Christy [Pym] didn’t have to make too many saves.
“It was a bit hairy from corners on occasions, but you would expect to under a lot more threat from a team like Southampton. We had a few really good chances such as my header at the near post in the first half – we could have scored more.”
Wheeler, 23, was one of the Grecians’ three overage players alongside fellow midfielder Jimmy Keohane (22) and veteran defender Danny Butterfield (33).
Butterfield, getting more game-time under his belt, showed the type of quality that would be expected of someone with reams of Premier League experience – though Wheeler was full of praise for his colleagues and friends that make up the City squad’s younger contingent.
It was combination play down the right between Wheeler and full-back Aaron Dawson that won a penalty – which Jake Gosling converted for the second goal – and it was that kind of boldness to get into the box from the defender that typified what the team were all about against the Saints.
“This group is great,” he continued. “We all get on so well and we’re all a very similar age – I’m probably the granddad of the team! The boys are so good technically on the ball, and with their work-rate, it makes such a difference.
“We did a lot of work on shape and tactical play with Rob Edwards during the week and that made a lot of difference too, and paid off exactly how we wanted it to.
“It was exactly the same as what we said before the Crystal Palace game – there’s no point in sitting and hoping to get an attack at some point, because we know we can cause any team problems if we all go together.
“And Daws and I work well together – he overlaps me, which is a quite a novelty a lot of the time! It’s great though because it opens the game up so well and causes the other team problems.”
The Under-21 Premier League Cup has provided some light relief for players and fans this season, with a talented group of young men all showing their work.
City’s under-21 contingent – which straddles the first-team and the Academy – have been helped by the sheer nature of the backroom staff, according to Wheeler. Manager Paul Tisdale, Assistant Manager Rob Edwards and Director of Football Steve Perryman have all helped to develop the side even further since their graduation and it is clear that the future is bright for this crop.
He continued: “The manner of Tis, Robbo and Steve is just so calm, so we can plan and prepare as best we can for the game and just concentrate on what we’ve got to do in our individual and team jobs.
“Hopefully we can keep doing that and not worry about what big name we’re playing. Southampton are arguably one of the best – if not the best – academies in the country, so we’ll just take it as it comes.
“We just want to keep winning games – that’s what we’re out there to do. We want to play well and keep winning; we won’t be happy to compete and lose – we want to win.”