Under-18s fightback from three-goals down but fall to defeat
Exeter City’s under-18s suffered a 4-3 defeat to Southend United in an eventful game in Essex last weekend in their latest match in the Youth Alliance Merit League.
Despite starting the match very well, an early goal for the hosts gave the Shrimpers the early initiative, before the hosts doubled their advantage on 27 minutes.
United’s first attack in the second half brought their third goal, and despite the mountain that faced the Grecians early on in the second period, they responded well and scored three goals in the space nine minutes.
Harry Kite finished off some neat build-up play to shift the game’s momentum, before substitute Joel Randall volleyed in an effort to bring his team to within a goal.
It was Randall who equalised from the edge of the 18-yard box but the home team were able to find an extra gear, with the tricky Southend winger scoring with 10 minutes remaining.
In spite of the visitors finishing strongly, they were unable to find another breakthrough, and they were unlucky to leave the south east with no points.
In the hope of finding a response to last week’s 3-0 defeat to Luton Town, Dan Green’s men started proceedings on top in an open affair early on.
Just 30 seconds had been played when Archie Collins saw an effort saved, before fellow forward, Brandon Parsons saw an effort narrowly miss just a minute later.
But despite some neat interchanges, they were unable to seize the chance to score an early goal, and against the run of play, it was the Essex club that took a 1-0 lead courtesy of a deflected cross on five minutes.
The goal had no effect on the Exeter players however, and they continued to move the ball well as they looked for a way back into the match.
The away side looked the better side and created more of the goalscoring opportunities, however they didn’t make the most of their chances, and just before the half-hour mark, they were made to pay for those misses when the Shrimpers made it 2-0.
Lucas White spurned another City chance just before the interval in a match which seemed to hinge on how potent each side was in front of goal. Even though the hosts saw less of the openings, they did look dangerous when they were put through on goal, with the physical and athletic United players certainly causing problems for the Grecians’ defence.
However going in at half-time 2-0 down, the away team felt they were still in the match, and made a change tactically in the hope of nullifying the Southend attack.
But it was the home team who scored the third goal of the contest when substitute Jordan Dyer was outmuscled 30 seconds after his introduction before the Southend striker made it 3-0.
However the response shown from the Devon outfit was positive, and Collins twice came close to pulling a goal back within the space of a minute; seeing a one-on-one opportunity saved by the goalkeeper before having a header cleared off the line.
Randall was substituted on after an hour, and just ten minutes later, belief was fully restored to Green’s players when Kite finished off a lovely Exeter move after combining with fellow midfielder Mitch Thomas.
With the momentum fully in City’s favour, Collins was to be denied once again, before Randall’s mishit volley brought the score back to 3-2 on 77 minutes.
Two minutes later and the game was tied, with Randall turning his marker on the edge of the penalty box, before unleashing a low strike which went through the goalkeeper to bring the scores level.
However, the celebrations were quickly forgotten about as a minute later the scoreline changed again. United’s left winger, who had troubled the Exeter backline all match, upped his performance and ran at the Grecian’s defence again before grabbing his side’s fourth on 80 minutes.
The Devon club looked for another way back into the match, and were on the front foot again in response to that bitter blow. They were able to muster some half-chances, but nothing clear-cut as time ran out.
It means it is back-to-back defeats for Exeter, and they’ll be hoping to return to action with a victory in their next outing, a Devon derby with Plymouth Argyle.
Exeter City, academy manager, Simon Hayward: “This was a very different type of loss in comparison to the Luton match. We played pretty well and a number of players have come out of the game with some positive performances.
“We looked very good early in the game, and despite going 1-0 down against the run of play we continued to play well. We were unable to make the most of the chance we created and we struggled to deal with the physical threat they posed.
“In the Luton match, once it went to 3-0 we looked out of it, but a lot of credit has to go to our boys as we always looked like responding here. We kept at it and deserved to come back. Brandon Parsons and Lucas White put in the best performances of the season, and our midfield played quite well too.
“The biggest thing is we failed to deal with their direct play, so fingers crossed we can deal with situations like that better next time. Overall it was a good team performance, displaying some real grit and determination at times. There were far more positives than negatives today, and it provided a good learning opportunity for the lads too.”
Exeter City under-18s: Lewis Williams, Josh Hancock, Will Dean, Sam Haynes, Mitch Thomas, Harry Kite, Max Smallcombe, Jack Sparkes, Lucas White, Archie Collins, Brandon Parsons. Subs: Jordan Dyer, Joel Randall