Jack Sparkes scores a brace but Richard Pears side take tie on spot kicksExeter City lost on penalty kicks in the semi-final of the Devon Bowl at Exmouth Town on Tuesday night.
The Grecians played a youthful team for the match with Max Smallcombe - a second half substitute - the only player to have a first team appearance to his name in the City side. Exmouth, who named former Grecian Lee Phillips among their substitutes, started the game brightly and hit the post before Karl Rickard gave them a 17th-minute lead with a fiercely-struck shot from inside the box.
The Grecians controlled possession for large spells of the game but struggled to break down a resilient home defence. It was midway through the second half that under-18s coach Dan Green turned to his bench bringing on Jack Sparkes, Max Gillard and Smallcombe.
And City drew level with 15 minutes to go as Sparkes won a corner and then curled a cross over the head of Exmouth keeper Kurtis Parkin and into the net. Seven minutes later Sparkes made it two as he picked up a ball 30 yards from goal, turned quickly and fired a shot into the bottom corner.
However, Exmouth threw men forward in the minutes that remained and, after Ace High had blazed a good chance over, former Torquay United player Kevin Hill latched onto a ball in the final minute of play and drilled a shot past Lewis Williams from eight yards.
With no extra-time that meant the game went straight to penalties. Sparkes saw his and City's first penalty saved and when Brandon Parsons also failed convert from 12 yards it gave Town's top scorer Jordan Charran the chance to win the match and he blasted his spot-kick home.