City kick off Merit League One campaign with a winEXETER CITY Under-18s scored three times in the first eleven minutes to secure an important 3-0 victory against Cheltenham Town in their first match of their Merit League One campaign.
Jamie Harkness, Will Richards and Kyle Egan all scored in a dominant start to the match, leaving the Robins no chance of coming back from such a margin, despite Scott Meritt receiving a red card in the latter stages.
Grecians Under-18s coach Lee Skyrme came away very pleased following his team's performance, against a side who had won so comfortably the week before; Cheltenham defeating Barnet 6-1 in their first match of Merit League One.
But last Saturday saw a fast start from the hosts. Their tempo dictated much of the play, and they took quick throw-ins where possible, and generally moved the ball from one end of the pitch to the other in a swift fashion.
Just two minutes had been played when the Devon club broke the deadlock.
After winning the ball in the midfield area, Mustafa Rehemi combined with Frank Rosenwald, before the ball was pulled back from the right hand side to Harkness, who tapped home into a near-empty net to give his side the early initiative.
An attacking onslaught had begun, and despite Scott Merritt shooting over just two minutes after the first goal was scored, it became 2-0 with only six minutes on the clock.
It started after some high pressing from City, resulting in Richards nicking the ball away from the Town defence, and the attacker kept his cool to convert his one-on-one chance and double his team's lead.
Richards almost doubled his own tally just a minute late when he acrobatically controlled Brandon Green's high cross, but he could own volley the ball wide of the post. Still, the waves of attacks continued to bombard the visitors' goal.
Despite one chance squandered by the away team, there was only eleven minutes on the clock when City scored again. A quick throw taken on the right flank found Kyle Egan, and the captain danced his way in from his wing to arrow a shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.
A break in play seemed to help Cheltenham, as they substituted their injured winger allowing them to regroup and find a way back into the game.
Errors crept into the City game as they tried over-playing at times, allowing Town more goalscoring opportunities to cut the three-goal deficit.
However, moments before the interval, Merritt was close to extending the lead after good work from Rosenwald. The goalkeeper pulled off a marvellous save to keep the scores respectable as the teams went into half-time.
Cheltenham came out with intent in the second period, and after sending a header wide just four minutes after the break, they forced goalkeeper Kavanagh Keadell into a fine save on fifty-six minutes after threatening from a set-piece once again.
Harkness and Rosenwald both had long range strikes off-target, before halfway through the second half, Rosenwald perhaps should have done better when he found an opening inside the box.
Changes were made from both teams as the game grew older, with the Robins substitute striking the woodwork with his first kick when he sent a ball into the swirling wind, which took it onto Keadell's crossbar.
Town continued to press for a goal of their own, but they were unable to beat the Exeter keeper, who looked determined to keep a clean sheet.
Richards, Rosenwald and substitute Cameron Hargreaves continued to give City energy in attack, and between them they were unable to grab their team's fourth with ten minutes remaining.
But the scoring stopped there, despite Merritt's involvement in an altercation with another player that got the playmaker sent off with just five minutes remaining.
It meant the Grecians managed to keep their clean sheet, and pull off an impressive result in their first match of Merit League One.
Exeter City Under-18s Coach Lee Skyrme: "It was a match between two competitive teams. I'm very pleased because they are a tough team to play against. I'm happy we've managed to keep a clean sheet against a side who scored six goals the previous week.
"You always want to get at teams early, and we certainly wanted a fast start. The players have been training well for the past few weeks now and they were raring to go. I was really pleased with our start.
"I felt our mentality changed because it had been so comfortable at the beginning. We were slowing our play down and playing sideways, but the words at half-time worked. We weathered their spell of pressure, and in the end it was a comfortable last thirty minutes for us.
"We have two tough matches against Collumpton and AFC Bournemouth coming up next. If we can have a good performance in those two matches, then it will certainly make for a good first week back into competitive football."
Exeter City Under-18s: Kavanagh Keadell, Kyle Egan, Toby Down, Nick Grimes, Brandon Green, Jamie Harkness, Steve Rodgers, Scott Merritt, Will Richards, Mustafa Rehemi, Frank Rosenwald.
Subs: Cameron Hargreaves, Archie Collins, Ben Seymour, Max Gillard, Jordan Storey.