Young Grecians back on the winning trailEXETER CITY's Under-18s produced a professional performance as they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against Cheltenham Town last Saturday.
Goals from Will Richards, Frank Rosenwald and Scott Merritt sealed the win for the young Grecians, meaning Lee Skyrme's men responded to their 3-1 defeat to Swindon Town in the best fashion.
"I was really pleased with how we moved the ball and kept possession," said an elated Skyrme. "I thought the team performance was very good, and there were certainly a lot of positives to take from the game."
The match started slowly, and although the hosts enjoyed the majority of the possession, breaking down their opponents proved to be a tricky task.
Clear-cut chances were limited, but Rosenwald tested the Robins' goalkeeper after nine minutes as the striker was beginning to find his range.
The away side failed to muster any opportunities of their own, however City were unable to make their final passes count as they continued to wear the opposition down with their possession and passing.
Steve Rogers brought a good save from the Cheltenham keeper following his long-range strike on twenty-seven minutes, however just a minute later, the Devon side did take the lead.
After a lengthy spell inside the Robins' third, Exeter managed to win the ball high up the pitch, which allowed Kyle Egan to centre for Richards, who finished low into the net to give his team a deserved 1-0 lead.
Just four further minutes had been played before the lead was doubled. After seeing Town keep an effort out moments before, Rosenwald received the ball on the left flank, before the forward cut inside and curled a beautiful effort into the far corner.
Both teams traded chances in response to the goal, but half-time arrived with the score at 2-0.
"I would have been disappointed had we come into the interval without a lead" said Skyrme. "I thought we had dominated possession and territory, and we scored two good goals. It was pleasing to go into half-time with the rewards following a strong first half performance, but we also had to keep the team switched on and focused again for the second period."
Both teams spurned opportunities minutes after the restart, but it was perhaps the visitors who had the momentum. Just ten minutes had been played of the second half when they struck from a set-piece to get themselves right back into the game, and worry the West Country club.
Skyrme brought on Max Smallcombe, who added a controlling presence in midfield, as the Grecians looked to survive the Cheltenham onslaught.
It appeared City had survived the tricky spell after the hour mark as they began to create opportunities again in attack.
First Rosenwald, then Jamie Harkness went close to re-establishing the two-goal lead, whilst Smallcombe may have brought the best save from the Robins' keeper after his goal-bound half-volley was tipped wide.
Rosenwald and his strike partner Ben Seymour kept the opposing defence on edge with their movement, but they both wasted good chances as Skyrme's men continued to search for that elusive third goal.
With just seven minutes to go though, the third goal did arrive. In a superb team move involving Seymour, Archie Collins, Smallcombe and Rosenwald, the team worked its way down the right wing, before the latter set up Merritt to smash home a tremendous team goal and round off a solid home performance.
Skyrme said: "Cheltenham are a very well-organised team and we knew had to work hard to get any kind of result. It was important to get our game going with our passing, and remain patient."
"I'm happy the boys didn't crumble under that pressure. We started the second half on the back foot, and we weren't doing things that we had done in the first half, but I was really pleased with the team's response to the conceded goal. The third goal was a real highlight and I thought we deserved to add a few more.
"I thought the midfield were excellent. From the first minute to the last, I thought Cheltenham couldn't handle our rotation in the middle area, and our midfielders helped move the ball quickly from one end of the pitch to the other.
"This was a good performance from the team, and we have to try and keep building on what we do and every performance we put in. We have a number of games coming up where the team will be rotated, so every player that comes in will need to perform, but they are all training well, I look forward to seeing what happens in the coming weeks."
Exeter City Under-18s: Kavanagh Keadell, Kyle Egan, Toby Down, Nick Grimes, Jordan Storey, Jamie Harkness, Steve Rogers, Scott Merritt, Will Richards, Ben Seymour, Frank Rosenwald.
Subs: Max Smallcombe, Archie Collins, Ethan Ampadu, Mustafa Rehemi, Cameron Hargreaves.