Under-18s Report: Gillingham 1-3 Exeter City

City Under-18s round up campaign with a win

EXETER CITY’s Under-18s completed their Merit League One campaign last Saturday with a 3-1 away victory against Gillingham.

A Max Smallcombe effort, followed up by an own goal and a Brandon Parsons strike, meant they came away from Kent with all three points, achieving their goal of ending the season unbeaten in three matches.

The result means that City end their Merit League fixtures in sixth place in the league standings, with four wins, two draws, and four defeats.

However the Grecians knew they had to record a victory against the Gills on Saturday to finish in a respectable mid-table position, and their ideal preparation meant they were always in the right frame of mind to put in a good showing a long way from home.

The professionalism they showed in their preparation was matched with their on-the-field performance. The Devon outfit passed the ball well in all areas of the pitch in a bright first half, and the three central defenders, Nick Grimes, Alex Hartridge and Ethan Ampadu stood firm when called into action.

Frank Rosenwald and Mustafa Rehemi were selected in attack, and they were to squander Exeter’s best opportunities in the first period, however despite going into half-time goalless, the visitors certainly looked more dangerous, whilst Gillingham’s biggest threat came from their set-pieces.

Lee Skyrme’s wise words at the interval were put straight into practise by his team in the second period, and within five minutes of the restart, they managed to take a deserved lead.

Rehemi’s good work allowed him to tee up Smallcombe, and the midfielder’s curling effort snuck inside of the post to make it 1-0 in an impressive style.

Smallcombe was instrumental to his side’s second goal just six minutes later. The Wales Under-17 international found himself in behind the hosts’ defence, before unleashing an effort that the Gillingham goalkeeper did well to tip onto the post. The ball rebounded off of the upright into an unfortunate defender to divert the ball into his own goal and give City a two-goal lead.

City’s second goal spurred the home team into life, and they enjoyed their best spell of the game whilst they searched for a way back into the match. The Gills halved the deficit whilst they were on top thanks to a deflected long-range shot, however the goal didn’t seem to affect Lee Skyrme’s men.

The Grecians found themselves back in control, rediscovering their rhythm once again as they carved out more opportunities against a tired home team. Towards the latter stages of the contest, they put the result beyond doubt. Rosenwald pressed the opposition defence, and his pull-back allowed substitute Parsons to bury home his opportunity to make it 3-1 and seal the win for the West Country club.

Exeter City Under-18s coach Lee Skyrme:I’m really pleased with the team’s performance. It is a long way to come, but we travelled up the night before, and the boys good preparation and professionalism led to a good start in the game here.

“I thought we played some good football. We passed the ball well and defended decent. We didn’t feel overly worried by them, and we did well to solve their set-piece problem.

“Overall I thought it was a well-deserved win from the team, and a professional performance. It was a good way to finish the season.

“I’m very pleased we have managed to end the season going unbeaten in our last three games. You can find positives from most performances, but there were certainly lots of them to take away from those three matches in particular.

Exeter City Under-18s: Kavanagh Keadell, Nick Grimes, Alex Hartridge, Ethan Ampadu, Will Richards, Cameron Hargreaves, Steve Rogers, Scott Merritt, Max Smallcombe, Frank Rosenwald, Mustafa Rehemi.
Subs: Archie Collins, Kyle Egan, Brandon Parsons, Lewis Williams.