Exeter City moved to the top of their under-23 Premier League Cup group with a superb 4-1 victory against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Goals from Matt Jay (2) and Kyle Egan, plus an own goal from Tyler Forbes, helped City on their way to a victory in what was a commanding display against the Seagulls.
City started the match brightly as Jack Sparkes played a low corner into Alex Byrne, but his shot from 12 yards was well blocked by the legs of Bailey Vose in the visitors’ goal.
Jay then went close to opening the scoring when Craig Woodman played a good through ball to him but, again, Vose was equal to his turn and shot.
However, five minutes later City had the lead as Archie Collins stole possession high up the pitch and played the ball into Jay and he worked a yard of room before firing a shot low into the bottom corner.
City came close to making it 2-0 with Sparkes crossing for Jay to test Vose with a header. Then Edwards played a ball in for Jordan Storey to shoot narrowly wide.
Edwards then tested the keeper himself with a free-kick that Vose punched away before the visitors got back on terms. The ball was played forward down the inside left and Henrik Bjordal hit it on the half volley past James Hamon.
City responded and almost got back in front five minutes before the break as Sparkes hit a volley that looped narrowly over the crossbar.
Brighton went close to going in front three minutes into the second half as James Tilly cut in from the right and drilled a shot towards goal. It beat Hamon in City’s goal but Kyle Egan recovered well to boot the ball off the line.
However, two minutes later and City had a similar chance as Edwards did superbly to beat his full-back and race into the box. His pull-back took out the keeper at the near post and left Sparkes with a side-foot finish to score, but Forbes was in the right place to block his effort on the line with an outstretched foot.
Therefore, it was with a touch of irony that Forbes was the unfortunate defender to get a telling touch as City took the lead. It came from a Sparkes free-kick out on the right that was played into the area and the Brighton defender got a head to the ball but only managed to divert the cross into the air, over his keeper, and into the far corner of the net.
Brighton then made a double switch bringing on George Cox and Soufyan Ahannach before returning Danny Seaborne was given a warm St James Park welcome as he made his first appearance for the Grecians since January 9, 2010.
It was fellow centre-half Storey who came to City’s rescue with 20 minutes left as he produced a great sliding challenge to stop the dallying Bjordal from having an effort at goal. Moments later Bjordal was at it again, but this time his effort, from a much more acute angle, was well saved by Hamon.
Then with 13 minutes to go Kyle Egan made it 3-1 with a well-taken goal. The City defender did well to keep hold of possession when a ball was fizzed to him on the edge of the box as he was under pressure from Brighton’s Ben Hall. He then managed to turn the Brighton defender and fire a shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
Jay then added his second and City’s fourth goal of the match as the lively Edwards beat his full-back once more and delivered a great cross for his teammate to volley into the roof of the net. That took City top of the group on goal difference ahead of Sunderland. They will face Hull City at home in this group next on January 22.
Exeter City under-23s: Hamon, Woodman (Hartridge, 85), Tillson (Dean, 85), Jay, Byrne, Collins, Edwards, Sparkes, Egan, Down (Seaborne, 67), Storey. Subs: Randall, Seymour.
Brighton under-23s: Vose, Mateju (Cox, 61), Forbes, Hutchinson, Hall, Kerr, Tilly, Collar, Bjordal, Sanders, J Davies (Ahannach, 61). Subs: Collings, Cox, A Davies, Alzate.
Booked: Davies, Hutchinson