Exeter City are through to the group stage of the under-23 Premier League Cup after they came from behind to beat Dagenham & Redbridge at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Grecians had trailed at half-time, thanks to Elliot Romain’s first half header but a double from Matt Jay midway through the second period turned the game on its head.
City, led by under-21s coach Matt Taylor and first-team coach Mel Gwinnett, named three of their transfer deadline day signings in the starting XI with Jayden Stockley, Kyle Edwards and Hiram Boateng all starting the match.
Both sides started the game at a lively place but it was City who went the closest to opening the scoring early on as Edwards got down the right and sent in a low cross that Jay dummied. The ball then ran invitingly into the path of Stockley but he side-footed his effort off target.
Dagenham responded with efforts from Tyrique Hyde and Romain but both were straight at City keeper James Hamon and comfortably saved.
Stockley then put a well-placed free-kick into the Dagenham wall before Romain tried his luck from distance once more without stretching Hamon.
However, the opening goal would come five minutes later as Sam Ling, son for former Grecian and ex-Torquay United manager Martin, launched a throw towards the edge of the six-yard box that the visiting defence failed to attack leaving Romain to glance a header into the far corner of the net.
And it could have got worse for City before the break as Hamon was forced into a good one-handed stop to turn Nick Wheeler’s 25-yard shot over his crossbar.
Dagenham started the second half in lively fashion but again it was City who went close early on as Jay flicked the ball into the path of Stockley who warmed the gloves of Justham with a shot towards the roof of the net.
However, City started to get more of the ball and were level on 60 minutes as long kick forward was flicked on by Stockley for Jay to latch onto and calmly slot the ball past Justham.
Six minutes later and Jack Sparkes had a good chance to make it 2-1 but Justham got down well to stop his effort arrowing its way into the bottom corner.
However, Jay would put City in front moments later as Kyle Egan set Edwards free down the right and he crossed for City’s striker to guide a first-time shot past Justham for his second goal of the game.
Edwards then went close to scoring himself, with an effort from the edge of the box, before substitute Archie Collins had a back post header cleared off the line.
However, as the clocked ticked past the 80-minute mark there was a warning shot fired by the home side as Mason Bloomfield sent a header from a corner just over the top of the crossbar. There was to be no comeback from the hosts though and it is City who progress to face Brighton & Hove Albion, Hull City and Sunderland’s under-23 teams in the group stages.
Exeter City: Hamon; Egan, Storey, Croll, Hartridge; Edwards, Boateng, Byrne, Sparkes (Collins, 75); Jay, Stockley. Subs not used: Pym, Down, Smallcombe, Seymour.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham, Nunn, Ling, Lee, Hyde, Mongoy (Bonds, 72), Adams, Bloomfield, Romain (White, 60), Wheeler, Symes. Moore, Holmes.