City youngsters secure top-half finishEXETER CITY UNDER-18S secured the point needed to qualify for a top-half finish in the Youth Alliance South West division league standings with a 0-0 draw against Newport County AFC.
City went into their rearranged fixture against the Exiles knowing a draw would see themselves finish in the top half of the league table, and therefore qualify for the top Merit League in the second half of the season.
With the continuous bad weather still affecting much of the region, the match took place on a 3G pitch, making things unfamiliar for the visiting Exeter players.
Coach Lee Skyrme made changes from the side that were knocked out of the cup just a few days before, and his team were under immense pressure right from the start.
County applied the pressure and struck the woodwork in the opening moments to unnerve their opponents.
The Devon club were unable to get a foothold in the game, and looked slightly off the pace with their ball control and possession play eluding them at times.
However despite being second-best for much of the game, they did manage to hold on to their clean sheet, and secure the point needed to qualify for the top Merit League.
After the game, Skyrme admitted it was a long ninety minutes to endure.
"We kept making mistakes and I believe this was probably the worst performance the lads have put in all season,” he said. “We couldn't get to grips with them and we played into their hands, and despite working out what they were doing, our touch wasn't there and we couldn't handle them.
"Credit to Newport for playing well. Some of our players were playing in their first match since the start of December, and perhaps the 3G pitch might have had an effect on our play, but we just weren't at it.
"But I'm very happy we have finished in the top half of the standings, and when you look back over our season so far, the games we have unnecessarily dropped points at, have come off the back of cup matches.
"I'm now looking forward to facing new opposition in the second half of the season, and now hopefully we can secure some loan deals for our second year scholars, and give some more game time to our under-16s."