Exeter City’s under-18s will aim to challenge for the Youth Alliance Cup in front of home support when they face Wigan Athletic in the competition’s final on Tuesday, April 30.
The contest will kick off at 6.30pm at St James Park, in what is potentially the young Grecians’ most important match of the season.
City’s youngsters have recorded some impressive results and put in some eye-catching performances in the competition so far, with their 2-1 victory over Northampton Town a particular highlight on their journey towards Tuesday’s showpiece final.
In the previous round, the Southern Section final, Exeter travelled to Southend United and, despite going a goal behind, celebrated a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from Theo Simpson and James Dodd.
With City able to take confidence and inspiration from that match in particular, they will now meet a talented Wigan Athletic side in the final. The Latics comfortably won the Youth Alliance North West division, losing just the one game in the process, while their only other defeat this season came in the FA Youth Cup when they bowed out to Liverpool’s youth side.
However, with plenty of excitement around Exeter City's Academy, they’ll be hoping to use that positivity to help them secure a trophy from their biggest game of the year.
Exeter City under-18s coach, Chad Gribble, said: “There is a lot of excitement. For the coaching staff, and the group of players, these are the games you put in the hard work for. It is another opportunity for the boys to play at our stadium, and with the fans being so supportive towards the under-23s, and under-18s in previous games at St James Park, it an occasion we always look forward too.
“The Wigan Athletic Academy does an excellent job, and they seem to always do well every year. They are going to be a professional outfit, we have to expect a confident opponent, and be respectful of them and their success.
“Our players shouldn’t feel any pressure. They play a side who won their league, won the Lancashire cup, and have lost just twice all season. The pressure is certainly off for our players, and they should go out there and just enjoy the occasion. These matches are all about opportunity, and for the players to be able to really showcase themselves at St James Park.
“We can take a lot of confidence into the game. In the previous rounds, we performed well and defeated Northampton Town, a side won the South East division, and, visited another tough place when knocked out Southend United.
"In each of these games, we’ve been able to grow and develop as individuals and as a collective, and we’ve got this far in the competition for a reason. We deserve to be in the final just like Wigan and the players are all full of belief and confidence in the lead up to it.
“In the recent Merit League fixtures, we have played with a really young team. But that has only made our squad stronger. With the young players developing through the merit league games and our older players going out on loan and developing their games with their respective clubs. As a collective this has certainly helped us and puts us in a good place ahead of the game.”
Tuesday’s match is a 6.30pm kick-off at the Park with admission prices as follows:
Seniors and students: £3
The IP Office Main Stand will be open on the night, with Individual match tickets available on the night, cash-only. Turnstiles will open at 5.45pm.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or you can get them in person from the club shop at St James Park.