Grecians still top of division despite defeat to Robins
Exeter City under-18s remain top of the Youth Alliance South West division despite seeing their winning streak come to an end last weekend after a 3-1 away defeat to Swindon Town.
The hosts took an early lead and doubled their advantage a little later during an eventful first half. Archie Collins netted just before the interval to get the Grecians back into the contest.
But in the second period, the Robins scored their third goal from the penalty spot securing the win that inflicted defeat on Dan Green’s men for the first time since the end of September.
However, City arguably started the better of the two teams on Saturday, with a long spell of possession moving the Swindon defence around the park with their swift passing.
The Grecians built up so much pressure during the first six minutes that they found themselves camped inside the hosts’ half.
It looked promising stuff, but a long clearance from the Robins defence suddenly put Exeter on the back foot, leaving the Swindon striker to take full advantage and put his team ahead.
The lead was doubled after the referee awarded the home team a free-kick. After the cross was centred, the Town player headed home.
However, the response was good from City. Joel Randell squandered a marvellous chance, whilst Collins tested the goalkeeper with another opening as the pressure increased on the hosts’ goal.
The Devon outfit managed to pull a goal back before half-time through the lively Collins, and they felt reasonably happy with the position they were in as they entered the break.
The second half saw both teams trade chances, but Ben Seymour and his fellow forwards were unable to beat a stubborn Swindon goalkeeper.
Green made some tactical changes and substitutions with the hope of getting onto level terms, with Lucas White, Harry Kite, Joe O’Loughlin and Cameron Hargreaves all brought on to add energy and impetus to the Exeter attack.
However, the game looked wrapped up for the home team later on in the half when the referee awarded a penalty when Lewis Williams collided with the opposing striker. The spot-kick was despatched and the result secured as the Grecians' winning run came to an end.
Despite the loss, City have remained top of the Youth Alliance South West division standings, sitting five points clear of second and third place, with a home game against Bournemouth next up for the young Grecians.
Academy manager Simon Hayward, said: “I’m disappointed to see the unbeaten run end, but now we need to see a response from the lads and see how they pick themselves up from this setback.
“We started very bright but weren’t concentrating when we conceded the first goal. We had some good chances in the first half, and at 2-1 we felt ok and that we had enough in us to go out and grab another goal after the break.
“Mitch Thomas and Archie Collins were the best performers for us, with Joe O’Loughlin giving his best display of the season from the bench.
“After a run of eight away matches, we now have a run of home fixtures to look forward too, so hopefully the lads can bounce back with a win next time out.”
Exeter City under-18s: Lewis Williams, Alex Hartridge, Sam Haynes, Josh Hancock, Jack Sparkes, Mitch Thomas, Josh Key, Max Smallcombe, Joel Randall, Archie Collins, Ben Seymour
Subs: Joe O’Loughlin, Cameron Hargreaves, Harry Kite