Brace from Archie Collins and late goal from Ben Seymour gives Exeter City victory
Exeter City’s under-18s made it three league victories in a row last weekend after an eventful 3-2 win against Bristol Rovers.
A brace from Archie Collins gave the Devon outfit the perfect start but after half-time two goals in five minutes from Rovers levelled the scores at 2-2.
Despite getting back on top and wasting some wonderful scoring opportunities, City found a winner with five minutes remaining when Ben Seymour cooly converted a penalty to hand Dan Green’s men the three points.
City started in a bright fashion, and the attacking trio of Collins, Seymour and Jack Sparkes looked lively in what was a frantic start.
In the opening moments the forward line were already causing the Rovers’ defence all sorts of problems, and it was Sparkes who found himself presented with the match’s first glorious opportunity. The game was only five minutes old, so perhaps the forward could be forgiven for blasting the ball over the crossbar when the chance presented itself.
That opening only proved to be a warning shot however for the Bristol side, with the Grecians scoring the first goal of the game minutes later.
Harry Kite’s pull-back was met by the left foot of Collins, and the striker buried his effort from 12 yards to put his team in front.
With the Devon club well in control of the match, the lead was doubled midway through the first half with a goal from a set-play. Collins rose highest as he won a header from an in-swinging corner which diverted it’s way into the back of the Pirates’ net.
Half-time arrived with Green’s men on top, but a determined home team took to the field in the second period which caught Exeter napping.
Play had been resumed for just five minutes when the score became 2-1. After the Bristol club won the initial aerial duel, a cross was put away by the Rovers’ attacker to half the deficit.
The game became level on 55 minutes when loose play from City gave possession away cheaply. A quick counter-attack was converted by the Pirates and suddenly the game was level.
The visitors composed themselves over the next 10 minute period, finding themselves a foothold in the game to reorganise their defence and regroup in the search of a winning goal.
Josh Key and Brandon Parsons both squandered great chances to win it for their team, as it looked to be another day of frustration for the away side.
However as time was running out, Collins helped win the ball back for the team high up the pitch. Sparkes, still full of running, latched onto the loose ball and centred the ball, and a sloppy challenge from a Bristol defender led to a penalty being awarded.
Seymour smashed home the spot-kick to win the game for Exeter, in what was a true test of character from the young Grecians.
Exeter City Academy Manager Simon Hayward, said: “We enjoyed a good start to the game and went two goals ahead without Bristol Rovers really threatening us. However, at half-time we warned the boys that they would come out with a higher intensity however they didn’t take the advice on board and they were level within 10 minutes of the second half. However, I have to give credit to the character of the lads to come back and find a winning goal despite missing three guilt-edged chances and letting a two-goal lead slip.
“In the last three weeks the whole squad have showed some real mental toughness in various ways. Against Plymouth Argyle we came back from 2-0 down, whilst the Oxford game saw us keep a clean sheet and score from a set piece which isn’t like us. This time we have had control of the game but been pegged back, and yet still have been able to get a result.
“Generally there has been a good progression amongst the squad, but Archie Collins has really stepped up in recent times. He has earned the right to train more frequently with the first time and play for the under-21s, and he is setting a real example to the younger members of the group. He has improved his mentality, upped his work rate, and his defensive play has allowed him to showcase his attacking talents when the time is right.”
“It has been three very different games for the guys in recent weeks, but they have come through them which is a good thing. They haven’t quite put everything together - not been able to sync the defence and attack together - however to have three wins when they haven’t been at their best is good, and we will continue to put the work in on the training pitch to put things right and get better.”
Exeter City under-18s: Charlie Phillips, Alex Hartridge, Sam Haynes, Joe O’Loughlin, Josh Key, Harry Kite, Mitch Thomas, Max Smallcombe, Archie Collins, Jack Sparkes, Ben Seymour. Subs: Joel Randell, Brandon Parsons, Will Dean, Josh Hancock