Match preview: Exeter City v Wigan Athletic

Academy manager Simon Hayward looking forward to special night at SJP

Exeter City Academy manager Simon Hayward is looking forward to another special night at St James Park when Dan Green’s under-18s team take on Wigan Athletic in the FA Youth Cup third round on Tuesday, December 13.

The Grecians qualified for this stage of the competition by beating Radstock Town 8-0 away in the opening round before seeing off MK Dons at St James Park on Friday, November 18. 

City have only reached this stage of the competition three times in the last nine years, but academy teams have enjoyed other big occasions at St James Park including in the Under-18 Football League Cup final and a quarter-final in the Premier League Under-21 Cup in 2013/14.

On both those occasions more than 1,000 people came to watch the young Grecians in action and Hayward is hopeful of repeating that experience this season. 

He said: “I think almost every game that we have been involved with at the stadium from an academy perspective, whether that was the under-21 Premier League Cup, the under-18 Football League Cup or the FA Youth Cup, I have always enjoyed the atmosphere.

“Two or three hundred fans always creates a nice atmosphere and when we have had five, six, seven hundred – or over a thousand – the environment has been absolutely fantastic. 

“The fans that have been to watch have been very, very positive and very supportive of our young players and we would love, whether it is the Wigan game, or a game beyond that, to get a big crowd in. 

“We would love to excite the supporters and we would love for them to believe in the talent we have got coming through the system.”

Kick-off for the game on Tuesday is at 7.30pm.