Edwards praises performance of young side
Despite the disappointment of seeing City knocked out of the Under-21 Premier League Cup at the hands of Burnley at St James Park, Exeter's assistant manager Rob Edwards was left beaming with pride at the performance of the young Grecians.
City had twice fought back from trailing positions to take the game into extra-time tied at two goals apiece, but Nathan Lowe’s strike early in the additional 30 minutes proved the decider. Jimmy Keohane and Tom Nichols had each cancelled out Archie Love goals in the second half of normal time.
A crowd of 1,207 gave the Grecians a hearty applause when the final whistle sounded, showing their appreciation for a set of young men that couldn’t quite complete another miracle.
But on the balance of play, passage to the final four would have been perfectly justified for City – the Grecians dominated vast swathes of the game and played some great high-tempo football until the death, despite the unabashed attempts by the Clarets to eat up the clock at any opportunity. So Rob was left with nothing but praise for the players.
“The whole club is proud of them,” said Rob. “The supporters that came tonight were noisy and were proud of what they have achieved. Tis and Steve Perryman were up in the stands, as were all the coaches, and they were encouraging them – we’re all proud of how the boys have done in this competition.
“It was great support for the youngsters and they certainly appreciated it. It’s a two-way thing – who gets the fans of the seats, is it the fans themselves or the players? For me, it’s the players – if you roll your sleeves up and show some passion and run around, then the fans respond.
“We saw a lot of players rolling their sleeves up tonight and doing their very best.”
And while the players are still undoubtedly feeling raw after the defeat, Rob feels that in the fullness of time the experience of the cup competition – and in particular this quarter-final tie – would leave them in better stead.
He also reiterated that he wouldn’t take any prisoners if he caught any of the City boys moping after the defeat – quite conversely, he felt that the young Grecians should be holding their heads high.
“They have to push on now, and what a lot of learning for them tonight out on that pitch,” he continued. “With the game going into extra-time and the disappointment of having to come back from going behind and trying to work out how best to deal with that – I’m sure they’ll all remember tonight.
“I’m disappointed for the players; they played so well, but that’s football. You don’t always get what you deserve.
“They gave it a go and probably didn’t get the rub of the green. We lost on a small margin, and I congratulated them on their performance.
“I told them that I would have a go at them if I caught them feeling sorry for themselves this week in training – they did what they could do, and they were unlucky tonight.”