Pilgrims triumpht in U18 Devon DerbyExeter City’s under-18s suffered their second league defeat of the season with a 3-0 loss in the Devon Derby against Plymouth Argyle.
Three goals in the first 38 minutes killed the game for the Grecians, who felt relatively comfortable in the match, even when they found themselves facing an uphill challenge.
However the Pilgrims were ruthless in attack, and punished Exeter for the few errors they made in defence, resulting in a scoreline that perhaps flattered the hosts.
Preparation for City seemed good going into the match, and coach Lee Skyrme made three changes to the team that beat Bristol Rovers the previous week. Brandon Green came into defence, whilst Jamie Harkness was given his first start since a lengthy injury absence.
Top goalscorer, Dean Billingsley also came in to partner Cameron Gill in a frightening looking attack, with a mix of energy and finesse with a five-man strong substitutes’ bench.
However for all of the tactics and pre-match planning that were put in place for the visitors, all were spoilt just six minutes into the game, when Argyle scored the crucial first goal. Coming in from the left-hand side, the attacker faced Kavanagh Keadell in a one-on-one situation, and made no mistake with the finish to make the score 1-0.
The scoreline soon became 2-0, as just nine minutes later, Plymouth hurt Exeter once again, taking advantage of some substandard possession in the defensive third, and punishing Skyrme’s men where it mattered.
But despite the scoreline showing 2-0 after 15 minutes, in attack, the away side looked bright going forward, however their final pass looked like it was the missing ingredient when at times this season they had made creating chances look so easy.
At 2-0, the next goal became so crucial, and Skyrme believed that if his side were to get the third of the game, they could go on and grab more in the process. They started to get on top at that point, as the ball got passed around the Exeter side with a sense of simplicity.
However just before half-time, the Grecians were punished one more time to seemingly put the game out of reach for them. In a combination of vision and skill, the Greens’ striker lofted the ball over a stranded Keadell and add a third to their goal tally.
Half-time arrived and the team were in shock. For all of their possession, they had been punished three times and had not replied with anything of their own. Skyrme believed nothing needed to change tactically, and could only tell his team to tidy everything they were doing up, and to keep going.
60 seconds into the second period, City responded to their half-time team talk with a positive vibe, creating a clear-cut opportunity, and seeing their best chance of the match cleared off the line from a Plymouth centre-back.
Twice more the Pilgrims managed to defend the ball on their goal line as it seemed like it was going to be a day to forget for the young Grecians.
However Skyrme’s side never looked beaten, and with Will Richards and Joe Charles brought on in the second half, they continued to mount attacks onto the Argyle goal.
However the ball seemed destined like it was never going to come for Exeter, no matter what they tried, as it appeared to be just one of those days for Exeter City’s youth side.
Under-18 coach Lee Skyrme said: “Despite the scoreline, we have come away from Plymouth pretty pleased. Obviously we are disappointed with the result and some of the goals we have conceded, but overall there were some aspects in the performance that were good.
“Alex Byrne and Kyle Egan were brilliant. They always had a drive about them and wanted to get us back into the game all the time. They never gave up and were determined that we didn’t concede any more goals which is very pleasing.
“It’s given the boys another lesson to learn from. When we aren’t at 100 per cent we can get punished like we have here. It’s nothing to worry about however we will be looking for a good week’s training now before our next game.
“We will have to put the score at the back of our minds quickly, and respond in the correct way as we did when we were beaten by Swindon. Our response was emphatic after that match and I will be hoping for a similar kind of reaction from our boys when they play Bournemouth on Saturday.”
Exeter City U18: Keadell, Egan, Down, Green, Read, Rehemi, Hayfield, Byrne, Harkness, Gill, Billingsley.
Subs: Richards, Charles, Madden, Merritt, Rosenwald.