Exeter City’s under-18s produced a dominating display and a ruthlessness in front of goal as they eased to a 7-0 win over Bristol Rovers last weekend.
Joel Randall gave Dan Green’s side the early lead, before a double from Jack Sparkes gave the hosts a three-goal cushion when the half-time whistle blew.
Sparkes netted twice more after the break, whilst Randall and Lucas White added late strikes to secure the emphatic result.
The victory leaves City’s youth team top of the Merit League One standings, joint on points with Southend United, but with a better goal difference.
City went into their contest with Rovers in good form and they started with a positive intent right from kick-off.
The match was only four minutes old when the home side struck the game’s opener. Positive play from Harry Gardner meant he could locate Randall with a pass, and the midfielder finished well to put the Grecians well on the front foot.
Just seven minutes later, Green’s men doubled their tally. Randall turned provider when some good work led to him playing in Sparkes. The forward kept his cool and slotted home to make it 2-0.
On 27 minutes, the hosts grabbed their third goal of the game when Lucas White linked up with Sparkes. The latter finished off the move with a neat finish to put the Devon side well in command.
After the restart, Sparkes completed his hat-trick. Defender Sam Haynes passed to the striker, who converted with confidence to make it 4-0 with 53 minutes played.
Sparkes bagged his fourth, and his side’s fifth midway through the second period. He combined with fellow goalscorer, Randall, before firing past the Rovers goalkeeper to extend the City lead.
Both coaching teams made changes to their line-ups, and it wasn’t until the 89th minute when Exeter found another way through their opponents. Randall grabbed his second of the contest after some slick build-up play and good work from substitute James Dodd.
The scoring was complete one minute into injury time, when White got his name on the scoresheet thanks to another assist by Dodd. The seventh goal rounded off what was a great day for the home side, with the decisive scoreline lifting the Grecians into pole position of Merit League One, with just three matches remaining.
Exeter City under-18s coach Dan Green, said: “It was a good performance, and I’m glad we have managed to keep a clean sheet.
“Bristol Rovers were relatively inexperienced compared to ourselves but this brought a different pressure on the players which we felt they handled with great maturity. When it could be easy to drop your performance levels, we’ve managed to maintain good habits and keep pressing for more goals.
“It was certainly a very good team performance, and whilst Jack Sparkes managed to get four goals, he was assisted from a number of his teammates. I was delighted Jack Arthur made his first Under-18s start for us in goal, and to come out of that with a clean sheet was great for him.
“We have another tough match next up as we travel to MK Dons, before our final two fixtures, away to Southend and home to Swindon to round off this part of the season.”
Exeter City under-18s: Jack Arthur, Sam Haynes, Cheick Diabate, Josh Hancock, Joe O’Loughlin, Mitch Thomas, Harry Kite, Harry Gardner, Joel Randall, Jack Sparkes, Lucas White. Subs not used: Lewis Williams, Jordan Dyer, Joe Belston, Will Dean, James Dodd, Louis Morison
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