Collins, Parsons and White on target in away victory
Exeter City's under-18s recorded a good away victory with a 3-1 win over Stevenage in the latest round of Merit League fixtures.
Archie Collins fired Dan Green’s men ahead, but they were to be pegged back on 40 minutes as the two sides went into the interval on level terms.
Then a strong second half showing from the visitors, which included Brandon Parsons and Lucas White both netting goals within the space of just two minutes, gave Exeter a fine win and a crucial three points in their pursuit for the Merit League title.
With Ben Seymour, Alex Hartridge and Max Gillard all out on loan with the intention of gaining more experience of men’s football, the Devon club sent a young squad eastwards to face an in-form Boro side.
The Hertfordshire team finished towards the top end of the South East league standings in the first half of the Youth Alliance season, and they went into Saturday’s contest with the Devon club unbeaten in the Merit League.
City lined up with three under-16s in the starting line-up and, despite a lack of experience within the ranks, they deservedly took the lead after a decent spell of Exeter pressure. On 25 minutes, attacker Collins sent placed a precise left-footed effort from the edge of the box into the bottom corner giving the opposition goalkeeper no chance.
The Grecians looked to build on their advantage and striker Brandon Parsons was unlucky to see a goal disallowed for offside as the Westcountry side continued to create decent openings.
Parsons and Collins combined in some neat build up play towards the end of the half but the far post cross aimed for Jack Sparkes was just taken away from him by teammate White.
The away team were to pay for their wasted opportunities when the hosts equalised five minutes before half-time.
The sides went in level at the break and with Stevenage causing the away team a few problems in defence some tactical tweaks were required by the City coaching staff.
The changes seemed to settle the Exeter youngsters down as they looked far more comfortable in possession with all the players clear in what they were doing and what they were trying to achieve.
It took just six second-half minutes for Green’s men to take the lead once again as Parsons used good movement from a throw-in to evade the opposition defence before firing a superb strike from a tight angle into the roof of the net.
Just two minutes later, the score became 3-1 thanks to Lucas White. After some build up play involving Ethan Ampadu and Parsons, White managed to wriggle free from his marker to meet a cross and poke the ball home to give his team a two-goal cushion.
Stevenage looked for a way back into the match and enjoyed decent spells of possession and territory, but the Devonians were proving to be just as dangerous in attack with Josh Key, in particular, looking threatening with some powerful dribbles.
As time ticked on, Collins combined with White forcing the Boro goalkeeper into a fine save as the Grecians looked for a fourth goal.
However, the game was to end 3-1, resulting in City taking an impressive three points back to the south-west as they remain unbeaten in Merit League One.
Exeter City academy manager, Simon Hayward, said: “This is a good time of year for our second years to grab some experience of men’s football out on loan, so with Ben Seymour, Max Gillard and Alex Hartridge absent we took a young team to Stevenage.
“Despite it being 1-1 at half-time, we were quite content, but we made some tactical adjustments and gave the boys a clear message for the second half. We instantly looked more comfortable with all the lads singing off of the same hymn sheet.
“I thought we looked quite comfortable once we took a 3-1 lead and it was certainly pleasing to see our training put to good use for our second goal.
“Both sides had 13 efforts on goal in the game, but we had six on target to their two so I thought we certainly created the better goal scoring opportunities and despite the performance not being quite as picturesque as the week before, the lads did what was required and with a young team we got a decent result against a good side who were unbeaten in there last ten games.”
Exeter City under-18s:Felix Norman, Will Dean, Ethan Ampadu, Sam Haynes, Harry Kite, Mitch Thomas, Jack Sparkes, Lucas White, Archie Collins, Josh Key, Brandon Parsons. Subs: Joe Belsten, Joel Randall, James Dodd