Victory over Oxford United this Saturday will see Dan Green's side crowned champions
Exeter City under-18s coach Dan Green said he was delighted that the hard work of his players was being rewarded after his team took a step closer to winning the EFL Youth Alliance South West title on Tuesday.
The Grecians under-18s team beat Portsmouth 2-0, thanks to goals from Archie Collins and Ben Seymour, to move five points clear at the top of the table with one match to play.
That game is at home to Oxford United on Saturday and if they manage to pick up a victory in that game it means no team, including fourth-placed Newport County who have three games left to play, will be able to catch City.
Reflecting on the season, Green said: “I would say I am pleased, so far.
“I expect things from this group and, if we take away the league and the results, I am pleased with the fact that we work hard every day.
“If you focus on the process, like your training sessions, then the results in the league look after themselves.
“I’m pleased with habits the players have got into at the moment and I’m delighted that their hard work is reaping some element of reward on the pitch.
“That is pleasing, but there is a still a lot of the season left to go. And the bigger picture is that we want as many players as possible pushing to get pro contracts and then establish themselves in the first team.”
City started Tuesday’s match against Portsmouth in a positive fashion and opened the scoring when Max Smallcombe won a header on halfway. The ball bounced between two Portsmouth defenders and, as they left each other to deal with the situation, Collins stole possession, drove in on goal and fired a shot through the keeper’s legs.
A solid defensive performance restricted Portsmouth to only a few half chances all game, with them failing to register an effort on target throughout the 90 minutes.
Therefore, City, all but made the game safe midway through the second half when Seymour produced a well-timed run to get in behind the Portsmouth defence and then hit a half-volley across the keeper and into the top corner of the net.
Speaking about Saturday’s game against Oxford United, Green added: “You obviously always want things in your own hands.
“We have still got a really tough game to come against Oxford. We only beat them 1-0 at their place and they are a very good team.
“If you looked at the league table and the results this year, it shows that anyone can beat anyone.
“So, as close as we are, we are still far away in the sense that even if we draw the game it opens up the door for Newport to win their three matches and take the title.
“We can only control what we can control and deal with Saturday’s game as best we can and if we win it, then fantastic. However, we will be giving Oxford every respect, to allow us to do that.”