Exeter City’s Under-18s won in impressive style recording a 2-0 victory away to Oxford United to storm to the top of the South West Youth Alliance league standings.
Exeter City’s Under-18 side recorded an impressive 5-1 away win at Cheltenham Town to maintain their push towards the league championship in the Youth Alliance South West division.
A hat-trick from the excellent Ollie Watkins, as well as a Connor Riley-Lowe effort and a Town own goal ensured the match was won in comfortable fashion, with the away side looking rarely troubled in a routine win.
City started proceedings very well, and took control of the game from the first minute. Whilst in possession the passing game from the Devon outfit dictated the tempo of the match, whilst without the ball, the Grecians were well organised, with centre-back pairing, Charlie Madden and Josh Read difficult to breach. The latter was playing his first full 90 minutes for the side after a lengthy injury absence.
Their authority on the game helped create chances for an energetic looking attack, with two of the potent forwards playing a part in the opening score. Dean Billingsley’s run was halted by a nervy Cheltenham defence, and following up, Watkins picked up the loose ball to round the stranded goalkeeper to put his side ahead.
The lead was soon doubled by Watkins once again as his determination won the ball back from a loose Robins’ pass. The attacker cut inside the opposing defenders and he curled a low effort into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
With Lee Skyrme’s men dominating the play with an endless assault on the home team’s goal, the third came in fortuitous circumstances. After creating another opportunity down the wing, despite the numerous Exeter bodies in the opposing penalty area, the ball was diverted goalwards by a Cheltenham shirt, and beyond the reach of the unfortunate keeper.
The Gloucestershire club pulled one-goal back just before half-time with a tap in, however City remained happy with their own display and continued to pile on the pressure in the second period.
Watkins rounded his outstanding performance by completing his hat-trick just past the hour-mark finishing off a slick team move. Substitute Joe Charles got beyond his marker down the flank, and his pull-back was met by Watkins to steer the ball into the net to re-establish the three-goal cushion.
And defender Riley-Lowe completed the scoring with his side’s fifth. Watkins turned into provider after linking up with his captain, and the full-back tucked the ball away to conclude a near-perfect performance for City. Riley-Lowe’s goal now means that all of the club’s under-18s have scored at least once this season, in what has turned out to be an eye-catching campaign for the youth side.
With the win, the Grecians find themselves third in standings, however they travel to second-placed Plymouth Argyle today in what will an important Devon Derby.
Under-18 coach Lee Skyrme said: “I thought our performance was very good and we controlled the game with and without the ball. The team are bitterly disappointed we haven’t kept a clean sheet because of how well the boys have defended in recent weeks, however the response they showed was very good.
“I’m very happy with Ollie Watkins. He is a very versatile player and it’s pleasing to see he can adapt his game to suit the team. He can play very well in any attacking position.
“We go to Plymouth in very good form, however I have challenged the players to keep the run going, because I believe if we can control what we can control in the matches, we will give ourselves a good chance of getting the result we want.”
1 James Hamon
2 Hussein Heidari
3 Connor Riley-Lowe
4 James Byrne
5 Josh Read
6 Charlie Madden
7 Alex Byrne
8 Ollie Watkins
9 Dean Billingsley
10 Matt Jay
11 Cameron Gill
12 Toby Down
14 Joe Charles
15 Jimmy Hines