A Matt Jay penalty combined with goals from Ben Seymour and Jordan Dyer saw Exeter City to a comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa’s under-23s side at St James Park on Thursday night in their opening group game of the Premier League Cup.
City's Under-23s manager Dan Green introduced summer signing Nigel Atangana to St James Park as the Frenchman made a long-awaited return from injury, while Jonny Maxted, Seymour and Jordan Tillson all started.
The youthful Grecians side started brightly, with Ben Seymour and Matt Jay both having shots within the opening exchanges – the former was saved comfortably by Villa goalkeeper Jamie Searle, while Jay’s effort flew wide – in what was a positive start to the game from the home side.
Aston Villa grew into the game as the first-half went on, and Tyreik Wright saw his deflected effort roll just wide after 21 minutes, before the same man burst through on goal four minutes later only to be forced wide by the onrushing Maxted’s slide, and the attack came to nothing.
City then had a golden chance to take the lead with 35 minutes on the clock, after Josh Key’s cross was met in the air by Matt Jay, before the ball fell to Joel Randall – the City man’s effort on the angle was saved by Searle, however, to keep the game scoreless. A superb strike from Randall five minutes later, having done well to cut inside from the left flank, somehow flew inches over the bar, denying the winger what would have been a spectacular goal.
It didn’t overly matter for City, as they were able to take the lead before the interval – a corner routine eventually found Atangana at the back post, whose physicality Villa had struggled to deal with throughout the first period, and his knockdown into the feet of Ben Seymour and he rolled home the opening goal from all of two yards after 43 minutes.
Immediately after the interval, City had a succession of corners and were then gifted the chance to double their lead after referee Savvas Yanni pointed to the penalty spot after a foul at the last corner of the move. Matt Jay stepped up and gave City a bit of breathing space by rolling the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
City’s ascendancy was nearly marked by a third goal in the aftermath of the second; Seymour breezed past Suliman and whipped in a dangerous cross that Searle was fortunate to fumble out for only a corner.
City were very comfortable for a majority of the second-half, dictating play effortlessly at times and proving good value for their two-goal lead – and would eventually reap dividends for their dominance as Jordan Dyer headed home from a corner.
Villa could have reduced the deficit as substitute Colin Odutayo broke clean through on Maxted’s goal, but opted to pass instead of shoot – only to see the ball go awry and City were able to clear.
What was left of the game passed largely without incident as City enjoyed prolonged spells of possession to see out the game with a clean sheet very much intact.
Exeter City: Maxted, Atangana (Smerdon 45), Tillson, Jay (Morison 68), Randall, Kite, Key, Hartridge ©, Seymour (Simpson 78), Dyer, Dean.
Subs not used: Arthur, Diabete.
Booked: Atangana, Kite, Tillson, Dyer.
Aston Villa: Searle, Walker ©, Rowe, Suliman (Revan 57), Bridge, Birch (Guy 57), Wright, Brunt, Vassilev, Ramsey, Archer (Odutayo 66).
Subs not used: Onodi, Tait.