Grecian youth side held to draw by GullsExeter City’s under-18s came from behind to earn a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Torquay United.
Despite Joe Charles opening the scoring for City, two goals in a dominant spell for the Gulls turned things around during the first half.
Minutes before the interval, Dean Billingsley restored parity, and the away side were unable to find another as the game ended in a point apiece.
Preparation was hampered for Exeter, as illness passed amongst the squad just days before the Westcountry derby, making training difficult for the players and coach Lee Skyrme.
However they travelled to the English Riviera with a positive vibe, and started in the best way possible.
Inside two minutes of the kick off, Skyrme’s men found a breakthrough. After a sharp passing move, Dan Hayfield played the ball to Charles, who fired a shot from long-range and flew past the goalkeeper and into the net.
The visitors were playing well in the opening exchanges, and deserved their one-goal advantage, however just before 10 minutes, the hosts levelled.
The Grecians might argue for a foul in the build up to the goal, but following some good interchanges, Torquay netted from 25 yards to make it 1-1.
It became an even game, with City struggling to solve the problems they needed to break the resilient home defence down.
On the half hour mark, after a good spell from United, they took the lead, turning the game round and making things hard for Exeter.
Being a goal down seemed to spark Skyrme’s men into life, as they shifted through the gears to create many more openings as they tried to find a second goal of their own.
With two minutes of the half remaining, a slick passing move ended with playmaker Alex Byrne sliding in Dean Billingsley, and the striker finished well to leave the two clubs level as they went into half-time.
After trying to address the faults in their performance in the first 45 minutes, the second period was dominated by the Grecians, with much of their possession played in the Torquay half.
The deep Gulls’ defence made things difficult for the visitors, as clear-cut opportunities became scarce with the little room Exeter had.
The Grecians did earn themselves a penalty – however Billingsley struck the crossbar with his kick, summing up a tough week for the young Grecians.
The game fizzled out into a draw; although, after the turbulent week they have experienced, the Grecians will happily take the point, and look to get back to winning ways next time out.
Under-18s coach Lee Skyrme said: “I am very pleased with the boys’ efforts considering the circumstances. Illness made our preparation difficult so it wasn’t too bad.
“The only thing I am disappointed with is that we didn’t find the solutions to the problems out there quick enough. We were playing well up until their equaliser, and I feel that changed some of the guys’ mindset and attitude.
“Our play between the two Torquay goals wasn’t good, however apart from that 20 minute spell when we played into their hands, we were okay.
“It is good we have come through the game unscathed. It has given our guys another match to learn from, and we have come away with no injuries which is a bonus.”
Exeter City U18s: Keadell, Rehemi, Egan, Down, Read, Merritt, Hayfield, Byrne, Richards, Charles, Billingsley.
Subs: Madden, Smallcombe, Rosenwald.