Exeter City booked themselves a slot in the group stage of the Under-23 Premier League Cup with a 1-0 win over Bristol Rovers.
A good performance at the Memorial Stadium saw Ben Seymour grab the only goal of the game in the first half.
The Grecians created a host of chances, but were forced to defend resolutely in the second half to claim the win as they advance to the next stage of the competition.
Under-23 coach Dan Green named a strong side for the fixture, with first teamers Jack Sparkes, Archie Collins and Jimmy Oates back in action following their involvement against Fulham in the Carabao Cup just a couple of days before.
The Grecians almost went ahead just three minutes in when good play on the right saw Archie Collins set Josh Key away into the box, but his low pass across the face of goal somehow manage to evade the City strikers.
For much of the first 20 minutes neither side were able to fashion any real chances at goal, despite City looking lively on both flanks through Jack Sparkes and Key.
Green’s side then had a claim for a penalty waved away when the ball broke behind the Rovers defence for Seymour, who seemed to be tugged back by a Bristol defender, but the referee waved away the appeals.
Bristol then managed to create their first chance at goal just before the half-hour mark when Mo Baghdadi drove at the City backline before shooting over James Hamon’s goal from the edge of the box.
But it was the young Grecians who went ahead on 33 minutes when clever play on the edge of the box saw Collins thread the ball through the Rovers defence for Seymour to fire home to put City 1-0 up.
City went inches from doubling their lead just a minute after when Sparkes’ teasing cross found Alex Hartridge at the back post, but he was unable to keep his header on target.
The home side put a rare attack together a couple of minutes before half-time when Cameron Hargreaves darted into the City area and tried to tee up Cameron Ebbutt, but for good defending as the Grecians got a toe in to clear the danger, as Green’s side went into the break with the lead.
The Grecians continued where they left off in the second half and probably should have put themselves further ahead when James Dodd’s shot was well saved by Alexis Andre Junior, before Sparkes’ volley from the rebound edged just over.
Theo Widdrington had Rovers’ first attempt after the break when the ball sat up nicely for him to strike first time from distance, but his shot sailed just over Hamon’s goal.
Alfie Kilgour was then inches from levelling things on 65 minutes when he rose well to meet a deep free-kick before heading powerfully towards’ Hamon’s far post, but thankfully for the Grecians, it edged just wide.
Though the Grecians were still looking to further their lead, they were almost stung on the counter-attack when a quick Rovers break saw the ball fall to Hargreaves at the far post, but he was unable to curl the ball into the far corner as the home side searched for a way back into the tie.
Credit to City, though, who seemed to cope with the spell of pressure as they began to see more of the ball as they looked to frustrate their opponents as they held out for the win to confirm qualification for the group stage of the competition.
Bristol Rovers: Junior, Bailey, Clarke, Jones (Moore, 58), Kilgour, Morgan, Baghdadi, Widdrington, Ebbutt, Hargreaves, Leigh-Gilchrist (Allen, 58)
Subs not used: Armstrong, Spruce, Isherwood
Exeter City: Hamon, Sparkes, Dean, Kite, Smallcombe, Key, (Dyer, 86) Collins, Dodd (Belsten, 63), Hartridge, Oates, Seymour
Subs not used: Norman, Gardner, Morison