Forward gives match reaction after JPT defeatExeter City forward Ollie Watkins grabbed a late consolatory goal for the Grecians in the 3-1 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat at Coventry City – the youngster’s first goal since turning pro in the summer.
The forward was a prolific scorer for the Under-18 side last season and has now opened his account with the first-team set-up.
He was introduced into affairs in the 64th minute with City already trailing by three, but Exeter – who had shown their ability with and without the ball throughout – finished strongly, allowing Watkins to slot in a maiden goal with four minutes remaining.
It didn’t leave long enough for a fight-back, but the forward was understandably pleased to have grabbed his first pro goal.
“It’s a great feeling for me to get my first goal,” said Ollie. “The ball came into Tom [Nichols] and he rolled his man, and he laid it over to Jimmy [Keohane]. He found me one-on-one with the defender and I just cut in and finished it in the bottom corner.
“Scoring is a great feeling, and hopefully I can score many more and build my confidence up, and go on to play regular games.
“It was a shame that it wasn’t the winner and I couldn’t peel off to the fans, but that’s the way it goes. I didn’t want to be in the doghouse with the manager! So I just got the ball and got back in position.”
It was also a special arena for the teenage forward to get his first goal, as he had attended the Ricoh Arena as a youngster in support of the Sky Blues with his some of his family in the Midlands.
And thankfully they were also there that evening to see him net the first of what he’ll hope to be many goals.
Ollie continued: “I used to sit up by the screen when I was around 14. I used to come up and watch Coventry with my uncle and nephew.
“They came up to watch me today and they were sat up with the fans – they were loving it and said it was a great atmosphere. It was the first game of mine they have been to so it was great to score right in front of them!”
The game also saw pro debuts for both Jason Pope and James Hamon, as well as a first start and 90 minutes for Connor Riley-Lowe – all of whom were playing under-18 football with Ollie last season.
With a spate of injuries affecting the Grecians at the moment – no less than the first-half foot complaint for defender Jordan Moore-Taylor – it could mean that some of the younger players are called upon with greater regularity in the coming weeks.
Ollie was pleased for his young colleagues that they were able to make further steps in their fledgling careers, as well as hoping that they can take advantage of the regrettable injury situation by staking a claim for themselves.
“It’s good to see us young players coming through,” continued Watkins. “Connor did really well and didn’t look out of place on his debut. I work really well linking up with Connor, as you saw in the second half.
“James Hamon was also really comfortable on the ball tonight and had a great debut, so I’m buzzing for Hammy. And I’m buzzing for Jason to come on as well and do really well, so it’s good all round. It’s just a shame about the result really.
“Hopefully the injuries won’t put the other players out too long and that Jordan [Moore-Taylor] is alright, as well as all the other boys.
“But in a way it is good for me because I get a chance to try and come on and express myself like I did tonight and hopefully get more game-time and build from there.
“I want to try and get into the team or bench for Saturday [against Hartlepool] and hopefully come on and do the same.”