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Hayward: It Was A Battle

18 November 2015

Grecians' academy manager reacts to FA Youth Cup win

EXETER CITY academy manager Simon Hayward felt the Grecians could have been better in their FA Youth Cup success over Oxford United, but was pleased with their progression into the Third Round.

"After the First Round, this was a lot more of a battle," Simon said. "You would have expected that, as with all due respect to Bournemouth FC, they are a non-league outfit who did well to get through to the First Round. Oxford, meanwhile, are a professional club, and they have an academy just like we do. Their under-18 players are full-time, just like ours are, so it was a very different challenge tonight, but we knew it would be."

Ben Seymour struck a brace to win it for the Grecians, making it four goals for him in this season's competition so far, and Hayward was pleased with the youngster's contribution.

"Ben's a first-year scholar, so he's got plenty of time until he gets a decision on a pro contract, and I think that the two halves tonight are a good summary of where he's at. He had a good half going forward when we had the wind going for us in the first half, and he got the goals. Against the wind in the second half, when we needed perhaps more hold-up play, that's an area that he needs to work on. We're hopeful for him; he's made a good start as a first-year, but just like all of them, he's got plenty of work to do.

"The game was won tonight mainly due to our togetherness; we were competitive and dug in. It was a poor performance given our recent standards, and in all honesty it was a mistake from Oxford that gifted us our first goal. We did capitalise on that, and it's pleasing that those positive aspects have not always been the hallmark of an Exeter City academy side. I know we could have played better, but I'm pleased that we toughed it out.

"Well done not just to the players but to the staff as well. Lee Skyrme has done a terrific job in getting the players ready for this match and the First Round match as well. Lee and the other coaches involved must take a great deal of the credit.

"Of course we're now targeting a win over Bolton Wanderers in the next round," Hayward added. "We've all seen what the Under-21s did in the Premier League Cup two years ago, and what they're doing again this season. You see the success of the academy in producing international players that are going off and playing for Wales and England.

"That 21s side of two years ago beat Crystal Palace, Southampton and Blackburn, so we have absolutely nothing to be scared of. We'll be playing against kids of the same age from a different part of the country. Over the years our academy has proven itself to produce good enough players that we can go into the Bolton game confident."

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