Under-18s Report: Exeter City Under-18s 1-1 AFC Bournemouth Under-18s

City grab late draw against the Cherries

EXETER CITY'S UNDER-18s snatched a well-deserved draw against AFC Bournemouth in a rain-soaked contest at the Cliff Hill Training Ground on Saturday.

The Grecians went behind in the early moments of the game, but weathered the opposing attacks and edged out the Cherries in a highly-competitive second half, before grabbing the leveller through Ben Seymour with a minute remaining.

It was the least that they deserved, following a brave second-half showing, and once the referee had blown for full-time, it was they who were celebrating as the visitors fell to their knees.

Despite the difficult conditions both sides attempted to play a flowing game, and with the pitch quick on the surface, the early minutes allowed the teams to find a rhythm as they started to string passes together.

The away side perhaps settled the quicker, and were confident on the ball. Just seven minutes had been played when they struck. After working the ball form one side of the pitch to the other, a curled effort beat Kavanagh Keadell in the Exeter goal to give the Dorset club the ascendency.

Despite Frank Rosenwald testing the Bournemouth goalkeeper on ten minutes, the momentum remained with the Cherries. They were denied a penalty, and fired two shots narrowly wide as they looked to double their lead. However, Exeter stood firm, and between Keadell and the four-man defence in front of him, they kept the visitors at bay up to half-time.

Tempers started flaring up in the second half, with bookings given out for a number of late challenges. The South Coast side squandered two decent opportunities early-on in the second period, before the momentum really shifted in favour of the hosts.

Coach Lee Skyrme brought on Max Smallcombe and Will Richards and they provided energy to the midfield to lift the team and put City on the front foot. Bournemouth spurned two half-chances, but all the pressing was coming from the Grecians, and Richards was unlucky not to equalise with his first touch when he shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Smallcombe sent a half-volley just over the crossbar as Skyrme's men cranked up the pressure in the final twenty minutes. Cameron Hargreaves brought more enthusiasm to the side as he entered the fray, and he played a key role in a frantic final five minutes.

After starting a move from the left wing, the ball found its way to Hargreaves who danced his way to edge of the box before slipping in Seymour. The striker struck low, but the goalkeeper stood firm and saved what might have been Exeter's best chance of an equaliser with just three minutes to go.

However, the drama continued. The Devon outfit passed their way around their tired opponents one last time with Richards and Smallcombe linking up effectively once again. The two substitutes combined well before sending in a low cross that beat a scrambling goalkeeper, which allowed a thankful Seymour to tap home a well-deserved leveller.

There was still time for City to spurn a chance to win the game, however the full-time whistle sounded, and it was definitely the Grecians who were the happier, celebrating the draw as if they had won three vital points.

Exeter City Under-18s: Kavanagh Keadell, Kyle Egan, Alex Hartridge, Nick Grimes, Jordan Storey, Jamie Harkness, Steve Rodgers, Scott Merritt, Archie Collins, Ben Seymour, Frank Rosenwald
Subs: Max Smallcombe, Will Richards, Cameron Hargreaves, Max Gillard, Lewis Williams

Exeter City Under-18s Coach Lee Skyrme: "I'm really pleased for the team. It was a really good game against a really good opposition. We had a slow start with our defending, but we thoroughly deserved our equaliser.

"I was a little concerned with how Bournemouth started, but I'm pleased with how the team solved the problems after twenty minutes or so. The mentality was always there.

"I felt we had threatened before the substitutions were made, but the subs certainly made an impact. They gave us more of a punch, and credit to them, for being switched on and impacting on a difficult match.

"When I made the last substitution, I said to the players to not get desperate. I asked them to keep passing the ball, and I’m really pleased with how they kept going. Teams can get desperate in those situations but I’m very happy with the mentality."