Grecians knocked out of FA Youth Cup by ExilesExeter City’s FA Youth Cup campaign came to an end in the first round at the hands of Newport County AFC, who were 2-1 winners at St James Park.
The Grecians’ under-18s, who had beaten their Exiles counterparts 4-2 recently in a Youth Alliance South West fixture, trailed at the break to a fine strike by Tom Owen-Evans.
The lead was doubled by Spencer Wood, who netted calmly from the spot when Aaron Collins was brought down in the box in the second half. The City comeback looked to be on when sub Archie Collins netted from distance, but the visitors held on.
Exeter and Newport exchanged chances early on, with Aaron Collins’ shot equalled by a smart save from Kavanagh Keadell and Cameron Gill flashing a shot just wide for the hosts from outside the box.
A moment of inspiration from Joe Charles nearly led to the first goal as he received from full-back Kyle Egan, rode challenges to burst into the box, and forced a great save from goalkeeper Jake Keating.
Moments later down the other end, Newport got their opener – it was Owen-Evans that found space on the edge of the City D and dinked a sublime shot into the top corner to open a lead.
Gill almost got Exeter on terms immediately – it was he that linked up well with Mustafa Rehemi down the left and won a free-kick, and stepped up to power an effort goalwards which was kept at bay by Keating.
Newport were quick to the ball and pressed high, but City still carved out some opportunities – the Exiles defence stood off Alex Byrne and allowed him to shoot, and Keating did well to gather at the second attempt from the midfielder’s powerful effort before the break.
Byrne had a chance just after the interval too, as Charles again showed blistering pace to get to a 50-50 ball on the byline and cut back from the right. However Byrne’s guided effort squirmed agonisingly past the far post.
It was a combination of centre-half pairing Josh Read and Charlie Madden who felled Aaron Collins in the box just before the midway stage of the second half, as the forward jinked his way into the area – the referee had not hesitation in pointing to the spot.
And Wood was cool and collected from 12 yards, netting firmly low to Keadell’s left.
Archie Collins and Dean Billingsley were introduced as Lee Skyrme’s charges looked to get a foothold back in the game – and indeed it was the former that cut the lead to just a single goal.
A fine ball from the back by Read found Charles in the channel, and the winger slid in Collins who steadied and shot low into the corner of the net.
With City piling forward, Newport were playing on the break and came close to restoring a two-goal cushion in stoppage time as Aaron Collins saw his effort cannon out off the bar as he cut in from the left.
Ultimately though they didn’t need a third, as a 2-1 win secured the Exiles a second-round tie at Rodney Parade against Cambridge or MK Dons.
Full-time: Exeter City U18 1 Newport County AFC U18 2
Exeter City U18: Keadell, Egan, Down, Hayfield, Read, Madden, Merritt, Byrne, Gill, Charles, Rehemi.
Subs: Williams, Rosenwald, Billingsley, Collins, Richards.
Newport County AFC U18: Keating, Matondo, Parselle, Wood, Poole, James, Owen-Evans, Shephard, Gray, Collins, Bamford.
Subs: Harries, Zanotti, Bull, Brooks, Raymond.
Referee: Simon Shaw