Teenage forward reflects on first-team debut
After 17-year-old forward Matt Jay made his bow for the first-team, he described the experience as ‘a pleasure and an honour’.
Ultimately, the Grecians succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Wycombe an thus exited the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the first round. But Jay’s introduction, midway through the second half, was a huge positive in what was otherwise a disappointing night.
Jay showed plenty of ability and intent on the ball, found space off the ball, shaved the post with a curling effort from outside the box, and bounced straight back to his feet without a grimace when on the receiving end of a hefty tackle from Anthony Stewart.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Jay. “Obviously it was a bit different to playing for the youth team, but it was a pleasure and an honour to play.
“It was much different – I’m not sure how many fans there were, but it was certainly a lot more than I’ve had at any of my under-18s games!
“I like to get on the ball, have a turn and maybe run at someone – I’m quite attacking-minded. I think that’s the best way to play, and it’s definitely my way of playing.
“That’s what fans like to see, and that’s what I was put in the team for, so I gave it my best go.”
His maiden appearance came off the back of some impressive displays in training, for the reserves and for the under-18s – the most recent of which being a 5-0 drubbing of Torquay on Saturday, in which Jay scored a hat-trick.
He was surprised and delighted to not only be involved, but to be introduced at such a pivotal point of the game with the Grecians still chasing a one-goal deficit.
The attacker was one of seven players on the field at the end of the game that had come through the Academy ranks at the Cat & Fiddle, and Jay also paid tribute to the reputation that Exeter has as an ‘opportunities club’.
“I got told on Sunday that I would be training with the first team on Monday,” continued Jay. “I thought it was because I had played a lot of games for the reserves recently, but the manager told me after training that I would be on the bench. It was a shock, but of course I was pleased.
“I thought perhaps if we were winning or losing by three or four, then I might come on for the last ten minutes or something. So to come on with about half an hour to go was a surprise, but an honour as well.
“There are a lot of clubs that won’t play their young players and prefer to bring players in from elsewhere. It’s better to be at a club that put younger players through to get the experience rather than not being in the ranks.”
For the full post-match interview with Matt Jay, click here to view on Grecian Player.