Paul Tisdale proud of Exeter City young players against BrentfordManager Paul Tisdale was delighted and proud his young Exeter City side put in such a assured performance on Tuesday night to beat Brentford in the opening round of the EFL Cup.
Ethan Ampadu rightly grabbed the headlines in the centre of defence as he put in a man-of-the-match display on his full debut for the club, despite only being 15-years, 10 months and 26 days old.
However, he partner at the centre of defence Pierce Sweeney also performed superbly putting in some telling blocks and headers to keep the Brentford attack at bay, despite it only being his second appearance in a competitive first team fixture.
And when you add into that equation that Tom McCready made only his 14 start in the Football League and he lined-up alongside fellow youngsters Connor Riley-Lowe, in left-midfield, and Jordan Moore-Taylor, at left-back, Tisdale admits there was plenty to be proud of.
“Between McCready, Sweeney and Ampadu they have not got many league appearances they have got between them, so it was quite a feat for them to keep a clean sheet today and do it in such an assured manner,” said Tisdale.
“The performance was gritty and team-oriented and selfless in so many ways by so many players against a side that challenged us with possession and we had to really work hard.”
Tisdale said that playing young players in the team it is part of being an Exeter City manager – and praised the club’s academy is doing in producing such a constant stream of talent – but he admits he did have reservation about putting out such a young side against Brentford.
“It is part of being an Exeter City manager,” he said. “Of course, every season we want to put a team together that can challenge and do the very best, but we also have to be very pragmatic.
“There is always a theory behind the squad we put together. We haven’t got a lot of strength in depth in senior, proven players, but what we have got is a squad with lots of young players backing up the first team players.
“It was one thing sitting down in June when you are planning it and thinking ‘that’s a nice idea’ and then you play the first game of the season at Blackpool and you have got two or three injuries. (Lee) Holmes, Troy Brown and Troy Archibald Henville were all injured and you think we’ve spoken about it, we’ve planned it and we’ve got to play them.
“You have to do that at Exeter City as coaches and managers, because we have to produce our own players.
“We don’t often go for loan players from other clubs, we stick with our own. And we have got a fantastic line of academy players coming through and Simon Hayward (Academy Manager) continues to get the very best from his academy.
“And let’s not forget Connor Riley-Lowe. We have moved his position in the last few months and he looks a tremendous step forward in his game as well. He had a really good hour at left midfield. There was lots to be proud of and you have to play them.
“You have to give them an opportunity and I procrastinated for maybe 24 hours about playing them altogether and I asked my colleagues yesterday morning to talk me out of it and none of them could.
“I said ‘if you can’t give me a compelling reason why I shouldn’t play McCready, Ampadu, Sweeney, Moore-Taylor and Connor Riley-Lowe, then I’m going to play them’”
“So I’m delighted that a club like ours can put in a performance like that and beat a Championship team with young players and a lot of homegrown players.”