City youngsters defeat Dons at the Cat & Fiddle
Exeter City’s under-18s bounced back from their opening Youth Alliance South Merit League 1 defeat with an impressive 2-1 victory over MK Dons on Saturday at the Cat & Fiddle.
Goals from Joe Charles and Dan Hayfield meant the Grecians fought back from a goal down, to grab the vital three points in a match that remained a tight contest throughout the 90 minutes.
Both teams were trying to get on the ball early, and the high-quality passing football from both sides was evident from the first whistle.
However the Dons were the quickest to settle into the pace of the game, and controlled the early possession.
An Dons effort flew over Kavanagh Keadell’s crossbar inside the first five minutes, whilst the Devon club also went close with Charlie Madden volleying just past the post from a well-worked corner routine.
However with seven minutes on the clock, it was the visitors who struck first. One long ball over the City centre-backs had the defence scrambling, back, allowing the Milton Keynes attacker to latch onto the ball and shoot early enough to deceive Keadell and put his side ahead.
But the lead only lasted nine minutes, with the best kind of response coming from Exeter through the boot of Charles.
After a move of three short, sharp passes, which also included a magnificent turn from Cameron Gill, the cross from the right hand flank by Kyle Egan found Charles 12 yard out, who acrobatically diverted the ball out of the goalkeeper’s reach and inside the far post.
It was a goal of the highest quality, and one that put the hosts well in command of the game.
Dean Billingsley curled an effort just wide just before the half-hour mark, whilst fellow forwards, Gill and Charles, were again unlucky not to extend Exeter’s lead with efforts just before half-time.
The second period brought things back to an even game, with the interval perhaps coming at the wrong time for the Westcountry outfit.
Billingsley saw a shot saved early on in the half, whilst Keadell twice denied the away team, where the next goal was always going to be crucial.
And midway through the second half, that important strike came.
A poor clearance from the Dons’ shot-stopper allowed Hayfield to win the ball from 40 yards, and his shot from close to the right-hand touchline flew past the retreating ‘keeper and into the top corner to stun the Milton Keynes side.
Lee Skyrme’s men led 2-1 and they started to gain the initiative once again. Gill fired one just into the side netting before Charles was denied his second of the game when the MK goalkeeper tipped his shot onto the crossbar.
Their counterparts remained a threat going forward, and Keadell pulled off an outstanding stop to keep his side in front with 15 minutes remaining.
Coach Skyrme made his substitutions as his team continued to keep the ball well, whilst creating more opportunities to extend their lead. The defence remained solid and organised against a side trying to move them about, however a professional job from every individual from the Exeter team meant they saw the game out well, and recorded a very impressive win against a good MK Dons side.
Under-18s coach Lee Skyrme said: “I’m really pleased with the whole team. We were playing a good team in difficult conditions, and the effort and application we applied to the game was very good.
“The goals were very good. The first was perhaps a good example of our playing style. It was a really good team goal, and the second was a terrific strike from Dan Hayfield, who handled the midfield area really well in the game.
“Our lads have a good mentality, and our response from going a goal behind was very good. It was a soft one to give away but it didn’t knock us. We got the ball down and played our goal, and we deservedly equalised. From then we knew the team who got the third goal would hold a massive advantage.
“Once we went ahead we managed the game well, and was excellent in keeping possession. MK Dons are certainly one of the better teams we have played this season, which makes the result and performance even more pleasing.
“This outing was perhaps the product of six or seven weeks of good training. We now have four games away from home where our mentality will be tested even greater now with the long trips. No one has ever made it in elite sports without a tough mentality, and it’s our job to keep ours strong for the next few games.”
Exeter City U18s: Keadell, Egan, Green, Read, Madden, Byrne, Hayfield, Richards, Charles, Billingsley, Gill.
Subs: Merritt, Harkness, Rosenwald, Rehemi.