Debutant looks back on a first game as a proAfter training with Exeter City since being an under-12, left-back Connor Riley-Lowe spoke of his pleasure at making his competitive professional debut for the Grecians in the Capital One Cup tie against AFC Bournemouth.
City ultimately lost the game 2-0 to an expensively-assembled Cherries side, but Exeter’s performance was a strong and Connor joined the ever-growing list of Academy graduates to join the first-team ranks.
Riley-Lowe was one of four players to have stepped up from the under-18 side during the summer, and after featuring in pre-season, he replaced Craig Woodman for the final half-hour of the cup tie for a competitive debut.
And he also spoke of the guidance that he took from his more experienced teammates that helped him through, and that have helped him develop on the training pitch.
“It was great – it was nice to finally be out there,” said Riley-Lowe. “I was a bit nervous at first but I had Pat [Baldwin] behind me talking me through it; he was guiding and helping me so I felt comfortable in front of him. I enjoyed it – it was a pleasure.
“Woody is great to learn from in day-to-day training. I watch him sometimes and some of the things he does are class – I can really learn from that.
“And out on the pitch with Oakes [Matt Oakley] and Pat behind you, it makes you feel a lot more comfortable about the way you’re playing and helps you during the match.”
“It was a bit of a surprise to come on, so when Paul called my name I was excited but quite shocked as well – but it was good.
“If I’m honest I was nervous, but I think most people are when they make their debut. Now that’s out the way, hopefully next time will be a bit more comfortable and I’ll do a bit better possibly.”
The defender was pleased with the display that Exeter produced and felt they could hold their heads high for the way they approached the game.
He also came within inches of having an assist against his named, as a dissecting ball into the box nearly found Tom Nichols at the far post in the final minutes, only for it just to slip out of the reach of the striker.
“We did really well – we had to go for it, but Bournemouth are a good side as you could see. We had a couple of chances with Jimmy [Keohane] and Tommy [Nichols], so I thought there were positives to take from the game.
“The ball came to me and I thought ‘I’ve got to get it in the box’, so I put it in – if it had been earlier in the game I think Tommy might have got there. But I think his legs were quite tired so he couldn’t quite make it. It would have been nice if that had gone in, but never mind.”
City’s next fixture is a Devon Derby at Plymouth Argyle – and the youngster has been involved in a few of those down the years.
Whether it’s a first-team game or an Academy tie, the derby always holds a little bit extra and so Connor is looking forward to this first fixture since joining the pro ranks.
He said: “Over the years we’ve had a bit of competition – Plymouth is probably our main match that we look forward to.
“It’s good for the fans, players and everyone really – it’s a good day. Hopefully we’ll take a good amount of fans down there to cheer on the boys. It should be a great atmosphere.”