Youngsters defeated in HertfordshireExeter City’s under-18s suffered their second defeat of the Youth Alliance South Merit League 1 campaign following a 3-1 loss to Stevenage.
Despite taking the lead through marksman, Cameron Gill, the young Grecians were powerless to stop three second half goals in the space of 13 minutes to gift Boro the vital win and the precious three points.
Memories of their last outing’s tremendous result and performance on home soil against MK Dons were still fresh in the memories of the Exeter squad, and they started the match in Hertfordshire continuing that impressive play.
City controlled proceedings early in the encounter, dictating the tempo of the match and retaining the ball with relative ease during the opening exchanges.
Lee Skyrme’s side lined up with three forwards, and the trio of Gill, Dean Billingsley and Mustafa Rehemi, were all looking to get in behind the home team’s back line, threatening on numerous occasions, as they looked to get that crucial opening score.
It was on 20 minutes the deadlock was finally broken, when Gill raced clear of the chasing defenders, and found the bottom corner with his low shot to give his team a well-deserved lead.
The warning signs had been there for the hosts, and on another day where more chances could have been converted, the attacking persistence was rewarded with a goal just before the midway point of the first half.
The Grecians continued to create more openings, however the teams went into the break with just a goal separating them.
However that didn’t halt the City flurry of attacks, as they continued to look for more goals, whilst at the back they seemed relatively untroubled.
Any sign of a goal for Stevenage looked like it may come from a set-piece routine, but on 67 minutes it was an uncharacteristic error from the Exeter defence that allowed Boro to be level.
The leveller seemed to switch the game’s momentum, as the impetus was now with the home team. A collapse from the away side’s defence allowed more opportunities to be created against them, and eight minutes later, the score had been completely reversed.
At 2-1, the Devon side looked out of it, and luck seemed to have deserted them as Joe Charles agonisingly went close to restoring parity, however the 13-minute nightmare ended on the 80-minute mark when the scoreline became 3-1.
Full-time couldn’t come soon enough as shock and disappointment was shared amongst the whole City party. For much of the game the Westcountry outfit were in command of the match, however they couldn’t bag the result they wanted in a tough away trip.
Under-18 coach Lee Skyrme said: “We are very disappointed with the result. We had been ahead for a large part of the game, so to come away with nothing is infuriating.
“It’s slightly disappointing we haven’t found the net more in a half in which we had control. I felt we were the team who handled possession of the ball better and there were certainly more opportunities to add to our goal.
“The equaliser came through our own wrongdoing. We’ve tried to play our way out from the back but were robbed of possession, which they punished us for. It was a sloppy goal to give away.
“It is very disappointing because after we had made changes, we lost our shape. We were playing well, and their main threat came through their set piece routines, however afterwards two of their goals have come through the middle. We made it far too easy for them.
“At times our possession was disjointed and we were trying to force the play too much. Arguably the most disappointing thing is the way we have reacted to the goals we have conceded. We don’t normally fold, but we have here. We know what we have to do in response to this result, so hopefully we can put things right in time for our next match against Peterborough.”
Exeter City U18s: Keadell, Egan, Green, Read, Madden, Richards, Byrne, Hayfield, Rehemi, Billingsley, Gill.
Subs: Merritt, Harkness, Charles, Down.