Youngsters play out stalemate in junior derbyThe junior Devon Derby ended in parity on Saturday, as neither of the under-18 teams were able to find the back of the net in Plymouth.
The fixture was contested at Harpers Park – Plymouth Argyle’s training facility adjacent to their first-team stadium at Home Park – and the home side were looking to continue their strong form in the early stages of the Youth Alliance South Merit League 1.
The Pilgrims had beaten the Grecians home and away in their Youth Alliance South West fixtures before Christmas, en route to a runners-up place in the league table. Their good form had continued into the new post-Christmas season, which had begun with four wins and a draw from their first five fixtures. The entered the game after back-to-back 1-0 away wins at Luton Town and MK Dons.
Exeter’s defence had conceded three in each of the last two fixtures – on Saturday, however, the rearguard was solid throughout and restricted the home side’s chances to scraps. At the other end of the pitch, Joe Charles – playing in the centre-forward role, and flanked by top-scorer Dean Billingsley and Cameron Gill – was one of the key threats.
Will Richards, on the left of a midfield quartet, caught the eye and striker Charles twice got in behind the Pilgrims’ defensive line in the first period using his blistering pace, but goalkeeper Andrew Hannah was quick off his line to thwart the forward.
City’s back three of Brandon Green, Charlie Madden and Josh Read were equal to any threat posed – chances were limited to set-pieces, and captain Read in particular was on the end of a number of dangerous deliveries into the danger area.
Goalkeeper Kavanagh Keadell, while rarely tested with shots, performed his role well by commanding his area and plucking balls out of the air.
With neither team able to provide a cutting-edge, the fixture ultimately ended goalless and City returned up the A38 with a well-earned point.
Exeter City coach Chad Gribble said:"Playing against top of the league, this local derby was always going to be tough. But it was a very good response to the Peterborough match, and to come away with solid defensive display is good.
"The guys are starting to show the form we have wanted from them, and hopefully they can use this result as momentum into the next run of games."
"This game showed that the team are capable of competing with the best. Hopefully now they can score in their next game and grab a result."