Talented youngsters take on Bristol Rovers in South West midweek cup
Exeter City under-16s will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going when they host Bristol Rovers under-16s in the final of the South West midweek floodlit cup.
City’s under-16s team have been without Jack Sparkes and Ethan Ampadu for most of the season, due them being called up to the under-18s and first team respectively, but have still managed to avoid defeat for the whole campaign.
They qualified for the final of the South West midweek cup, which is in its inaugural year, by beating Plymouth Argyle and Bournemouth and academy manager Simon Hayward says it is a talented group of players.
“This is a very promising group,” said Simon. “Obviously Ethan (Ampadu) is part of that group, but those boys haven’t seen him all season because of his first-team commitments.
“We have got Theo Simpson who is a long-term absentee with his illness and Jack Sparkes has also spent a lot of time with the under-18s. I think Will Dean and James Dodd have also had a handful of appearances with the under-18s, but they have certainly missed three key contributors with Ethan, Theo and Sparkesy for a large part of the season and yet are still unbeaten.
“I have never known an academy age group to go unbeaten for so long. So it is a promising group. There is certainly some talent in there and certainly some strength in depth. They have still got a lot of work to do. They have not made it yet, but they are showing some promise.”
City fans can watch the final, which is being played at Axminster Town FC, free of charge. The kick-off is at 7.30pm and Simon is urging supporters to get behind his young team for the effort they have shown so far this season.
“The players put in a lot of effort and commitment, training three or four times a week and playing every weekend for many years, so it is nice to have something where there are trophies and medals on offer and it would be a nice reward for all their hard work.
“It would be fantastic for there to be a crowd. I think, just like the FA Youth Cup, when we get four or five hundred people at St James Park, the atmosphere is brilliant. If we could get a few hundred people out to Axminster on Friday night that would be excellent.
“Obviously the first team are away at Grimsby and there will be a few hundred travel there, but most of the fans that watch the home games won’t go to Grimsby, so if they fancy making their way out to Axminster on Friday night instead the bar will be open and there will be a chance to watch a promising young Exeter City on show.
“All the support will be welcome and Axminster have been kind enough to agree that we can have the entry free of charge for adults and children in the hope that persuades a few more people to come along.”