Young Grecians lose derby game by the odd goalExeter City’s under-18s lost to a solitary goal in the Devon Derby as Plymouth Argyle ran out 1-0 winners at the Cat & Fiddle.
In a very tight and competitive game, a Pilgrims goal from a set piece separated the sides, leaving the hosts feeling desperately unlucky not to get anything from the contest.
In a similar fashion to last week’s single-goal defeat to Portsmouth, from the start, the match felt like one which would be settled by the side who took the initiative first.
In a generally pleasing first period from City, where they conjured up several goalscoring chances, the ball just didn’t break for them in the final third as they went searching for that crucial opener.
Strikers Cameron Gill and Dean Billingsley received their first starts since returning from their respective injuries, and in an attacking trio that also included Joe Charles, their pace and skill tormented the Argyle defence throughout.
However for all of the opportunities created, they weren’t to find the first goal of the game, as the visitors scored as a result of a free kick towards the corner flag.
It was a soft goal to concede from an Exeter point of view, as a lapse in concentration meant they found themselves behind in a game where they had more than matched their opponents in every department.
However the Grecians reacted well and got back into their own rhythm in the search of an equaliser.
Ethan Ampadu, 14, was at the heart of everything good from the Exeter camp and played the full 90 minutes in the centre of the park. His performance was a real positive as he looked at home in the middle of the pitch and grew in confidence as the game went on.
Unfortunately there were factors that counteracted everything the hosts tried to do, with conditions not helping them as the game went on. The pitch started playing slow which didn’t suit the high tempo football the hosts like to play, however they still mustered some good opportunities to score, and were close on numerous occasions to draw level.
Lee Skyrme’s men looked particularly dangerous form corners, with several free headers falling for the Exeter side, however they failed to capitalise on any of them as they continued to trail.
In defence meanwhile, the shape looked solid and the four defenders, marshalled by captain Josh Read and their goalkeeper Kavanagh Keadell, looked assured that no more goals were going to be conceded.
However for all the team’s focus and work ethic, they weren’t able to find a leveller, and they went on to lose to the solitary Plymouth goal.
Coach Lee Skyrme said: “We’ve come off the pitch with the feeling that we put in a decent performance but we’ve lost the match through a soft goal.
“We felt we had enough in our tank to get something from the game, and maybe if our finer details were right in the final third of the pitch perhaps we might have taken some of the chances we created.
“It was real positive having players start the match and get through it after their injury lay-offs, and I thought Ethan [Ampadu] and Jamie [Harkness] looked really good in midfield.
“There were a lot of positives in our play, but we know we got to continue to work hard, keep moving forward and hopefully we can get the right response when we play Swindon next week.”
Exeter City U18s: Keadell, Down, Madden, Read, Green, Harkness, Ampadu, Merritt, Charles, Gill, Billingsley.
Subs: Egan, Hayfield, Rosenwald.