Bristol Rovers U18 1 Exeter City U18 1

Academy side draw with the Pirates

Exeter City’s under-18s recorded a spirited 1-1 draw away to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Matt Jay’s goal gave Lee Skyrme’s side the lead, but a sloppy defensive error led to the Rovers equaliser in an action-packed first 45 minutes.

The Grecians had travelled up the M5 in good spirits having created an unbeaten run that has stretched ever since their opening league defeat to AFC Bournemouth back in early-August.

And despite a lot of positives coming out of this result, the manner in which they played the full 90 minutes suggested it was a game they could have won.

City started well and the first 20 minutes was a period in which the Bristolians were clearly second best in every department.  Throughout the team, the visitors looked rather comfortable on and off the ball, and an opening Exeter goal seemed to be inevitable.

Ollie Watkins and Matt Jay were combining to devastating effect, ripping the opposing defence wide open on several occasions, and it was the latter who broke the deadlock; the attacker scoring his fifth league goal this season in just four games.

And arguably the Devon outfield should have added to their tally and produce a lead that was convincing, although a lack of composure in the final third meant the score remained 1-0.

The Pirates were struggling to create any decent opportunities, and there were suggestions that if they were to find an equaliser, it would come at the expense of a Grecian mistake.

And with 10 minutes to play in the opening half, despite suggestions that the Gas striker may have been offside, he sent the ball past James Mitchinson in the Exeter goal to bring the scores level.

From a City point of view, it was disappointing as it was preventable, and at half-time, the U18’s deserved to be leading.

The good football continued into the second half, however much like the first, it was the final pass and killer ball that often lacked as they weren’t in search of a winning goal.

Jason Pope, in the heart of midfield, gave his all in their pursuit of another, whilst Charlie Madden continued his good form in defence by displaying a very good performance.

Substitutions were made, as Joe Charles and Dean Billingsley were brought on to add some extra firepower to the visitors, however nothing could get past the Bristol goalkeeper in the closing stages, much to the frustration of the away side.

The full-time whistle sounded with the scores tied, helping extend the impressive unbeaten run Exeter City are on, but the one point they recorded here could have been a valuable three.

Under 18’s coach, Lee Skyrme said: “I am pleased in the boys’ efforts today after travelling there and playing like we did after a tough week.  We started very well, and I was satisfied with many aspects of our play.

“I felt like we could have got a winner, in a match where I thought we deserved to win, however, recording a draw is still a good result for us.

“I must say that I am very happy with the way we are playing at the moment, and hopefully soon we can turn some of these draws into victories.”

Exeter City under-18s
1 James Mitchinson
2 Brandon Green
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 James Byrne
5 Charlie Madden
6 Toby Down
7 Alex Byrne
8 Jason Pope
9 Cameron Gill
10 Matt Jay
11 Ollie Watkins

12 Joe Charles
14 Dean Billingsley
16 Scott Merritt