Assistant manager delighted for City youngsters
Grecians assistant manager Rob Edwards was thrilled for the members of the under-21 squad that beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Tuesday evening.
Many of the players that featured are on the fringes of the first team, and Robbo was delighted to see the youngsters take their opportunity to shine and to excel themselves in 3-2 victory
“I’m so pleased for them more than anything,” said Rob. “They get a bit frustrated at times because they don’t get regular football, so I’m delighted for them. They were exceptional tonight and the club should be proud of them – I certainly am.
“It wasn’t just the result; they played the game in the right way. They passed the ball and were competitive, and they were proud to play for Exeter City.”
For Edwards, one of the most impressive parts of the display in the tie was the mental fortitude that his side showed.
Far from being overawed, the occasion proved to spur on the side to a composed, dynamic and front-footed display. Even with several international footballers and regular top-flight appearance-makers in opposition colours, there were no signs of anxiety from the City boys.
“When you’re a young player, you’re fearless,” he continued. “They were desperate to get out there. We didn’t speak too much about the big names playing for Palace – we just spoke about what we can do and what we can control.
“They didn’t look intimidated by the surroundings and the players that Palace had and they certainly played the right way.”
The Under-21 Premier League Cup has been established this year with the intention of giving young footballers an extra opportunity to mingle with good opposition and in impressive stadia, and to effectively help to bridge the gap between youth and adult football.
Passage through to the Round of 32, where City will host Southampton, means that the Grecians will have an additional opportunity to test themselves against a tough opposition. The Saints’ first-team currently play in the Barclays Premier League, and the squad is regularly fed by its thriving Category 1 Academy.
“The most important thing to get them close to our first team and give them the chance of having long careers,” continued Rob. “They’re desperate to be footballers and have long careers in the game.
“This group hasn’t just been chucked together; it’s been together for a year or two now. They know what they’re doing, that’s for sure. And the Southampton game is a bit of a bonus because we didn’t expect to win tonight.
“It’s about the development of the players and playing in big games. You learn on the pitch, no doubt – you can train as much as you want, but you need to play in competitive games. So I was delighted for them.”