Exeter City’s under-18s rearranged fixture with AFC Bournemouth ended 1-1 on Tuesday afternoon making it consecutive draws for Dan Green and his young team in the Youth Alliance South West division.
With both teams missing several good chances throughout the match, it took until the 88th minute for the deadlock to be broken. The Cherries seized upon a mistake by the City defence before the ball was slotted away to make it 1-0 to the home side.
However, an instant reply from the Grecians saw Harry Gardner win a penalty. Joel Randall converted the kick levelling the scores, resulting in a share of the spoils for both teams.
In a changed line-up for Exeter, due to Josh Key and Harry Kite being called up to ECFC’s Under-23s, Josh Williams and James Dodd were brought into the starting XI in a hope they could provide a winning ingredient to the side.
The away team started well, and they quickly established their authority in defence by nullifying the Bournemouth threat with the waves of attacks that came their way.
After 15 minutes, Green’s men were unlucky not to take the lead when Lucas White hit the post. Furthermore, Brandon Parsons also went close to breaking the stalemate, whilst the visitors also tried their luck from range on several occasions, though they were all to no avail with both goalkeepers proving to be on top.
The score remained goalless as the half-time whistle blew, however Green and his coaching side believed his players were in control of the match.
After the interval, White hit the post once again as City pressed for the opener. Luck seemed to go against the Grecians once again when the referee waved away several calls for a penalty following a number of tangles inside Bournemouth’s 18-yard box.
And things went completely against Exeter when it was, in fact, the hosts that took the lead on 88 minutes. Full-back Joe O’Laughlin was caught under the high ball which led to the ball being squared into the centre of the pitch from the flank. The onrushing Cherries’ player kept his cool and arrowed the ball past Felix Norman to give his side a late lead.
It was a sucker-punch to Green and his players who had stuck to their tasks well but couldn’t find the rewards in the shape of a goal.
However, that changed within a minute of conceding. Straight from the resulting kick-off, the ball was slid into the path of Gardner down the wing. Some neat footwork deceived the opposing defender and the Grecian was brought down, resulting in the referee finally awarding a City penalty. Randall confidently stepped up and converted the spot-kick to quickly restore parity.
With little time remaining, neither side could find a winning goal, which meant the Devon club travelled back to Exeter with another point, meaning they are now three games unbeaten following their opening day defeat.
Exeter City under-18s coach, Dan Green: “It was certainly a positive performance. We executed the game plan well and we nullified their threat, and dealt with that well.
“We did miss some chances, but I’m not critical of that. The plan went really well which demonstrated the team was concentrated and competitive. The most pleasing thing was that we played our way which was a complete contrast to the previous match.
“I’m pleased with how Josh Williams came into the side and did well, and I am also happy with how much of an impact the subs made coming off the bench. Mitch Thomas and Joel Randall stood out but it was a good performance from the team.
“This performance was a step in the right direction. The players showed good habits and although both this game and Saturdays game against Rovers were the same outcome, we feel if we continue to play with the same intensity and quality as we showed today, we will give ourselves a great chance of three points more often than not.
Exeter City under-18s: Felix Norman, Sam Haynes, Jordan Dyer, Josh Hancock, Joe O’Laughlin, Josh Williams, James Dodd, Mitch Thomas, Joel Randall, Lucas White, Brandon Parsons. Subs not used: Ollie Jarrett, Harry Gardner, Joe Belston