Grecians' youngsters end 2014 with defeatThe Grecians’ under-18 squad could count themselves unlucky to come out empty-handed when Barnet visited the Cat & Fiddle on Saturday, as the Bees left 2-1 winners.
Having finished in the top half of the Youth Alliance South West before Christmas, Exeter qualified for the Youth Alliance South Merit League 1 and kicked off with a home tie against the Bees.
The visitors were always likely to pose a threat, having finished top of their 13-team South East division before the winter break, and it was they that took the lead in the first period. It was swift pounce on a loose touch in the defensive line that allowed a Barnet midfielder to poach the ball, hit the byline, and hang up a nicely-weighted cross to be turned in at the back post under Kavanagh Keadell’s bar.
However the lead was short-lived, as Joe Charles got the sides back on terms from a free-kick. After Exeter drew a foul close to the edge of the box and in a central position, the City attacker curled a right-footed shot over the wall and into the net.
City came close to turning the game on its head completely when a corner routine was recycled, and Will Richards tried to pick out Jamie Harkness with a low cross from the right but it was just glanced past the far post by a Bees defender.
Dean Billingsley then came close as he combined with Max Smallcombe in a quick counter, and the opposition goalkeeper did well to save and hold with Mustafa Rehemi sniffing around for a rebound.
Barnet then came within the width of the post from retaking the lead, as a driving counter ended with a shot from the edge of the area going behind via the outside of the upright. Soon after Josh Read rose well to meet a set-piece delivery from Charles but couldn’t quite direct the effort on target.
But after half-time the visitors scored what proved to be the winning goal – a lengthy spell of possession around the Exeter box eventually saw a low cross come in from the left, and despite an initial block, a first-time shot on the rebound found its way through a crowd and into the net.
Sub Frank Rosenwald had two late chances to equalise – the first as he hit wide after creating space for himself on the left to cut in and shoot from the edge of the area, and the second as he almost profited from a shanked clearance but could only find the palms of the goalkeeper with a left-footed effort.