Big success for the City academyFOLLOWING Exeter City’s Under-16s victory over Bristol City, the Exeter City academy have highlighted the progress they have made at the Cliff Hill Training Ground and the reasons why they hope to achieve their ambitions of becoming an academy with a Category Two rating at some point in the near future.
The Grecians’ Under-16s controlled proceedings for large periods in their match against the Robins, and they ran out as 8-0 victors thanks to a hat-trick from Brandon Parsons, a goal from Josh Key, and braces from Lucas White and Jack Sparkes.
Despite a few of the senior members of the Under-16s squad being absent, the remainder of the age group, complimented with eight members from the Under-15s set-up, helped produce an emphatic performance that thrilled the City coaches.
The young Grecians got on the front foot early and were very positive with and without the ball. Despite only holding a one-goal lead inside the first twenty minutes, the squad were able to lift their game for the remainder of the first half.
At half-time they extended their lead to 4-0 and academy manager Simon Hayward admitted his pleasure with the way his team were able to take their high standards into the second half. Four more goals were taken to produce a resounding victory against a highly regarded Bristol City side.
In spite of the game being just a friendly fixture, the result and performance was something the City academy were proud of. This was the perfect response from the Under-16 squad following their up and down display in the 4-2 win against Plymouth Argyle last time out.
“It was an all-round performance from all sixteen members of the squad," Hayward said. "It's pleasing to see that the boys stayed focused throughout the game, and they kept going right up until the end even though the result was long decided. We played well from the first minute to last and it was one of our better games of the season.”
The academy manager then identified the significance of the academy progressing and what it could do for the club.
“We have ambitions of upgrading our Academy status, and we can use this match to highlight why we want to do that," he continued. "The result and the performance, along with many others over the last few years, clearly show that we are ready to compete at this kind of level throughout a whole season.
“The money received from the outgoing transfers of academy graduates Matt Grimes, and more recently Tom Nichols, could help us fund a facility improvement project that would push us towards that Category Two Academy target. The club are very supportive of this aspiration and I hope we can find a way to make it happen.”
The upgrade would allow the Cliff Hill Training Ground Academy to employ more coaches on a full-time basis, who in turn would get more tuition time with their players. The improved facilities would not only benefit the academy teams, but would also provide somewhere for the first-team to train in bad weather and would be a facility that the Football in the Community, the Ladies teams, other areas of the club, and even the local community could all utilise.
There would be huge advantages in challenging and developing the players connected to the academy. A chance to face a high-quality opponent every week, from all corners of the country, would test the young players and enhance their progression further. Consequently, this would allow the academy to pass on a better standard of footballer to the first-team. The upgrade would, in essence, allow the club and the academy to achieve the goal of nurturing more future superstars from our local area, just like Grimes and Nichols before them, who can then go on to shine for the Exeter City Football Club first team and beyond.