Academy report: Plymouth Argyle 2 Exeter City 3

Josh Key side-foots home in third minute of stoppage time to give Grecians victory

Exeter City under-18s scored a goal three minutes into injury-time as they came back from two goals down to beat Plymouth Argyle under-18s on Friday.

The young Grecians started the game at Tavistock in confident fashion, enjoying the greater possession and territory in the opening 25 minutes of the match. They came close to opening the scoring when a cross from the left found Josh Key in the area, but he fired just wide.

It was shortly after that when Plymouth took the lead as the Grecians gave away possession cheaply in their left back area to allow the Argyle winger in on goal to score.

Max Smallcombe responded by firing a shot narrowly over the crossbar after a cross from the right found him around the penalty spot, but City were 2-0 down at half-time as they failed to clear a corner well enough and an Argyle player hooked the ball home from close range.

A confident City side kept their composure in the second half and, with a few tactical adjustments from coach Dan Green, gave a fantastic response to battle back to win the match.

They were denied an early penalty when Joe O’Loughlin was nudged in the back as he was about to head the ball into the net, but the Grecains were given a spot-kick 25 minutes into the second half when Cam Hargreaves was brought down in the area and Smallcombe coolly slotted the ball home from 12 yards.

Key then got City back on level terms as he beat his man in the full-back area before firing a fantastic finish across goal. The comeback was then completed in injury time as O’Loughlin crossed to the back post for Key to side-foot the ball into the Argyle net.

“It was a fantastic effort from the boys,” said Green. “They have put a lot of work and effort in after some disappointing results of late and this was their reward for that. It was not a lucky result. The boys have worked hard on the training ground and on the pitch today to get that win. 

“It also says a lot about their character to come from two goals down. We said at half-time that we thought there was a really good chance of us winning the game 3-2, but it was going to take some hard work. Obviously, the third goal in the game was vital and once we got that we felt good. And, even though there were only four minutes to go when we got the equaliser, we thought there was a chance to win it.

“Archie Collins, for me, was our man-of-the-match. He was very strong, very hard working, very competitive. He had a good performance. Josh Key was a constant danger down the right-hand side with his pace and power. 

“Harry Kite had a good game in midfield and Brandon Parsons had his best performance since pre-season when he came off the bench as a centre forward for Ben Seymour when he got injured. He had little bit more life and energy about him.”

Exeter City under-18s: Adam Siviter, Josh Key, Joe O'Loughlin, Max Gillard, Sam Haynes, Alex Hartridge, Harry Kite, Max Smallcombe, Ben Seymour, Archie Collins, Cameron Hargreaves. Subs used: Lucas White, Brandon Parsons, Josh Hancock, Mitch Thomas.