City beaten at home at the GasEXETER CITY's Under-18s suffered a disappointing setback in their quest to finish in the top half of the Youth Alliance South West division following a 3-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers.
Despite Frank Rosenwald putting City in front in the opening stages of the game, the hosts failed to add to their solitary goal, and the Pirates managed to turn around the scoreline in fourteen second-half minutes to snatch the victory.
Coach Lee Skyrme made several changes to his starting XI after the 3-1 victory over Cheltenham the week before, but that didn't disrupt any of their rhythm in the first ten minutes of the match.
The Devon club settled the quicker and were moving the ball around the midfield area with consummate ease despite the swirling wind that prevailed.
Although aerial passes were quite hard to judge in the weather conditions, with the ball on the floor, Exeter always threatened to build something, and attacked the Rovers goal.
The home side's first real effort came on twelve minutes, and it resulted in a well-deserved goal. Strikers Archie Collins and Rosenwald combined, and the latter took two bites of the cherry to tuck the ball home from an acute angle to make it 1-0.
Cameron Hargreaves spurned a good chance after a swift counter-attack from the hosts, whilst both of the City forwards continued to test the Pirates keeper with shots of their own.
Rovers were trying their luck from long-range, whilst the clear-cut chances kept falling to Skyrme's men.
Just before the interval, Rosenwald found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but a good save from the Bristol keeper kept the score at 1-0.
In the turning point of the match, just a minute later, the Devon outfit did have the ball in the net for the second time. However, the goal was disallowed following a nasty collision between two players moments before, when it had appeared the referee had stopped play to attend to the injured individuals.
The kick-off for the second half was delayed following the serious injury sustained by the Pirates' defender. Rosenwald, who had looked a constant threat in the first period picked up a knock himself in the second half, allowing Jack Sparkes to come off the bench and have his first taste of football at Under-18s level.
But it was the away side who gained the momentum after the interval. Two chances wasted inside the first eleven minutes of second half was a sign of things to come from Rovers, and they got their equaliser just before the hour mark following a quick break from an Exeter attack.
Sparkes missed a chance for his team's second midway through the half, but minutes later it was the visitors who scored again, taking advantage of some questionable defending to scramble the ball home from a corner.
Collins tried his best to halt the Bristol bombardment, however his shot was tamely struck at the Rovers keeper, and just a minute later the scoreline became 1-3, when a low shot arrowed into the bottom corner of Williams' goal.
Max Gillard shot wide as the Westcountry side tried to respond, however time ran out, and a dejected City side walked off the pitch knowing that their failure to score a second goal may have cost them the win.
Exeter City Under-18s coach Lee Skyrme said: "It was a game of two halves, and the defeat and performance here could be one of the best lessons the players will learn from.
"After the match, that was the most frustrated I have been with the team all season, as I was really disappointed with a number of individuals.
"The match was under our control, but the things we were doing well in the first half, we didn't replicate in the second. We came out and didn't apply the same application, and ultimate we've been punished for it.
"We've got to respond from this. We want a good run in the cup, and Tuesday will be a tough match against Bolton Wanderers. We shall respect them, and if we make similar mistakes, we could be punished again for it."
Exeter City Under-18s: Lewis Williams, Max Gillard, Alex Hartridge, Nick Grimes, Ethan Ampadu, Jamie Harkness, Max Smallcombe, Cameron Hargreaves, Mustafa Rehemi, Archie Collins, Frank Rosenwald.
Subs: Jack Sparkes, Steve Rodgers, Jordan Storey, Kavanagh Keadell, Scott Merritt.