Young team impress Academy manager Simon Hayward
Exeter City under-16s finished top of the South West League, going seven games unbeaten to reach their second semi-final of the competition in consecutive years.
The under-16s side, who are coached by Chad Gribble, have impressed Academy manager Simon Hayward in their performances which saw them win five of the seven games including a 5-1 win over local rivals Plymouth Argyle.
The progression of the Academy is clear to see with the team looking to go one better than last year where they let a two-goal half-time lead slip, losing 3-2 to Leyton Orient in extra-time.
They have already surpassed their debut season in the competition in 2014, where they fell at the last hurdle, again losing 3-2 to Bournemouth who went on to qualify for the semi-final.
“The South West side of it has been decided earlier than the others so we don’t know who we will play yet or who’s through from the South East or from the North regions,” said Simon. “However, regardless of the opponent we are looking forward to a semi-final for a second year in a row for this age group.”
Simon was quick to praise the team for their achievements and said the talent at the club reflected in the performances on the pitch.
“There’s a really good crop of under 18s and a really good crop of under 16s at the club,” said Simon. “As we continue to develop and improve the Academy product as a whole, I think there is a chance that what comes behind it, could in the future possibly be even better.
“I think back to Jordan Moore-Taylor’s age group and I remember telling Paul (Tisdale) that I thought that that was the best group we had ever had but there was a chance for even better groups to come through.”
The under 16s achievements were further congratulated as the team were without 16-year-old Ethan Ampadu who was busy with first team commitments.
“I think we’ve got more good players coming,” added Simon. “Not everyone is ready to make their debut at 18 and definitely making your debut at 15 is a rarity but I think we’ve got a good programme and a good production line of players that will keep coming through the system for a few years more yet.”