Exeter City U18 4 Newport County AFC U18 2

Grecian youngsters claim home win against Exiles

Exeter City’s under-18s continued their bright start to the league campaign recording their second win in as many games to sit towards the top of the Youth Alliance South West division.

Goals from Scott Merritt, Alex Byrne, Dean Billingsley and Toby Down portrayed how strong the young Grecians looked against their Newport County AFC counterparts, and the home team went on to win in fine style with the final score ending at 4-2.

It was a bright start from City, executing their game plan in good effect in a new system of five defenders.  However the change of tactics didn’t faze the young side, as they pressed well as a team and moved the ball swiftly to create numerous goalscoring opportunities.

And within a bright opening 20 minutes, the Devon club found themselves 3-0 up, and dictating much of the play.

With the hosts setting the tempo to the match, their quick thinking led to their opening goal.  A quickly taken free kick found its way to the advancing Scott Merritt, who coolly lifted the ball over the Newport goalkeeper and gave the Grecians a 1-0 lead after just 13 minutes.

Just three minutes later and Lee Skyrme’s men had the ball in the back of the net once again.  After a decent spell of possession, a sweeping move fell to striker Dean Billingsley, and whilst his initial effort was saved, midfielder Alex Byrne netted his first goal of the season with the rebound.

And on the 20 minute mark it became 3-0.  Joe Charles sprinted away with the ball as his defence cleared a County throw-in, and as the forward left defenders training in his wake, he gained an impressive 80 yards during his dribble.  Charles was cool enough to pick out Billingsley in the penalty area, and the poacher tapped in the third goal within a dominant seven minute spell for Exeter.

The remaining 25 minutes of the half was controlled by City, however a lapse in concentration gave the visitors some sort of hope as they went into half-time at 3-1.

The second half started slow, with the home side rushed with a rejuvenated Newport side troubling the Westcountry side.

This trend continued up until the hour mark, where the Welsh club then started to create chances of their own and testing Kavanagh Keadell in the Exeter goal.

However on 65 minutes, the Exiles did pull another goal back when a diagonal ball opened the hosts’ defence with the attacker making no mistake with his finish.

It became a nervy 10 minutes for the Grecians afterwards, however they saw out the tricky period, and with the introduction of Will Babb and Will Richards, they stole the ascendency back off of their South Wales opponents.

The Devon club restored their two-goal cushion after Toby Down headed home from a corner, and from then on normal service was resumed from an Exeter point of view.  Skyrme’s boys saw the game out comfortably and they always looked as if they could score more with every chance they created.

Jamie Harkness also came on for the final 10 minutes, making a long-awaited return from injury in the closing stages.

As the full-time whistle blew, the score remained at 4-2, meaning the defence of the league title remains strong, with two wins from two games, and a strong Oxford United team next for the young Grecians.

Under-18 soach Lee Skyrme said: “Overall we are pleased with our performance and the result.  Newport worked us hard but we always looked a threat and the scoreline could have been more.

“We were slightly disappointed with how we were keeping the ball in the second half, however we got a fourth and saw out the game comfortably from there.

“I thought Dean Billingsley and Joe Charles were excellent.  Dean worked hard with his movement and held the ball up brilliantly, whilst Joe showed great pace, and his aggressive running helped create plenty of goalscoring chances for us.

“Jamie Harkness came on for us with 10 minutes to go, and it was good to give him a run out after his long period on the sidelines with a nasty injury.  Mentally Jamie has been really strong, and I hope he continues his recovery so we can get him back to playing 90 minutes for us soon.”

Exeter City U18s: Keadell, Egan, Down, Madden, Green, Read, Hayfield, Byrne, Merritt, Charles, Billingsley.
Subs: Babb, Richards, Harkness.