Exeter City’s under-18s suffered a setback in their quest for the Youth Alliance South West league championship with a 3-2 defeat at Swindon Town.
After falling behind to a converted penalty, goals from left-back Connor Riley-Lowe and striker Cameron Gill weren’t enough to avoid a loss in Wiltshire, leaving the Grecians a difficult task if they wish to secure the league title.
Unlike much of the season gone, City failed to begin the match with enough intensity, and with the Robins coming up with a game plan to stifle the Exeter play, it was proving to be a frustrating afternoon for Lee Skyrme’s side.
The pressing tactics employed by Swindon meant it was largely a scrappy affair in the first period, and it was the home team that broke the deadlock from the penalty spot.
The teams went into half-time with the score at 1-0, with neither side really doing enough to earn the lead, however the Devon outfit paid for their slow start with that goal from the spot-kick.
But the second half seemed brighter for the away team, and City instantly showed more intent in their play as they began looking for a way back into the game.
Many times, the Grecians were in possession of the ball in dangerous areas in the Town half, however, it was the hosts who scored the second goal of the game, doubling their lead with some swift play on the counter-attack.
The visitors failed to let that strike defeat their mentality, as they still pressed to find a score of their own.
And in an instant reply, they managed that through their captain. The attacking duo of Ollie Watkins and Matt Jay combined well, before the latter slid his skipper down the left hand side, who finished smartly to give his team some hope.
Skyrme’s boys continued to search for more goals, and whilst they pressed forward, there were still some vulnerable holes in defence.
And Swindon capitalised as they managed to find a third goal of pure quality to re-establish the two-goal cushion. There was not much Exeter could do as the opposing midfielder arrowed a 30-yard effort into the bottom corner past James Hamon in City goal.
Time was beginning to run out for the away team, though substitute Cameron Gill managed to half the deficit with 10 minutes to go when Watkins managed to cross the ball for the attacker, who scored with a great deal of composure.
However as time ran out, so did the ideas, and the full time whistle sounded with the score ending 3-2 in the Robin’s favour, much to the despondency of the Exeter side.
Under-18s coach, Lee Skyrme said: “We are disappointed as a team with the way we have started the match, and the beginning of the game has ultimately cost us the result.
“We didn’t get the rub of the green, and the bounce of the ball didn’t go our way, and after conceding first I thought we were always chasing the game.
“The title race is now out of our hands, as we are relying on other results to go our way now. It makes things very difficult but we will continue to try and win the rest of our games and we shall see what happens.”
Exeter City under- 18s
1 James Hamon
2 Hussein Heidari
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 James Byrne
5 Charlie Madden
6 Josh Read
7 Alex Byrne
8 Jason Pope
9 Dean Billingsley
10 Matt Jay
11 Ollie Watkins
12 Joe Charles
13 James Mitchinson
14 Toby Down
15 Cameron Gill