Exeter City’s under-18s were rewarded for their hard work and graft with a 1-0 victory over local rivals Plymouth Argyle.
A solitary Ollie Watkins effort was enough to separate the sides in a game which saw both sides go all out to record a win in the junior Devon Derby.
With conditions not favouring the high tempo game that City normally play, the game was more disjointed compared to previous matches. But the home side did retain possession well and passed precisely on a difficult surface.
The clinical finishing that has been evident in so many of Exeter’s games this year was also missing, though good chances did fall for them on numerous chances, with the midfield helping continue the flow of attacks despite the adverse weather.
The hard running of the midfield meant Lee Skyrme’s side saw more of the ball, and whilst the first half remained goalless, it meant if an opener did arrive, it looked as if it may come in the host’s favour.
And indeed it did as Jason Pope, injuring himself in the process, won the ball with a forceful challenge in midfield. The ball found its way to substitute Matt Jay, and he laid the ball on for the onrushing Watkins to finish neatly.
The goal typified Exeter’s mentality and how they approached the match. The tenacious tackling in the midfield allowed for the short-snappy break-away, which was finished with conviction by a side that oozed confidence in their display, leading to a deserved one-goal lead.
And despite having the majority of possession, and creating more chances, the second-half strike proved to be the difference in what was another key result for the young Grecians.
Under-18 coach Lee Skyrme said: “I thought the whole team defended very well in what was a really hard game for us. The two centre backs, Charlie Madden and Toby Down, controlled the defence magnificently and I thought they both played brilliantly.
“However I must give credit to the two teams, as they both worked extremely hard to win the game, but in the end, we managed to score the crucial goal.”
Exeter City U18s
1 James Hamon
2 Hussein Heidari
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 James Byrne
5 Charlie Madden
6 Toby Down
7 Alex Byrne
8 Jason Pope
9 Dean Billingsley
10 Cameron Gill
11 Ollie Watkins
12 Joe Charles
14 Matt Jay
16 Toby Gostling