Exeter City Under-18s continued their good start to the Youth Alliance League season with a 5-0 victory away at Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
The Devon derby victory took the Grecians third in the South West table, four points behind leaders Portsmouth having played a game less.
Despite the final scoreline, Saturday’s fixture against the Pilgrims started in a scrappy manner, with both teams enjoying spells of possession in attacking areas and it wasn’t until the 12th minute when things really turned good for the visitors.
After tidying the ball up in the final third, a swift move saw A Trialist try to centre the ball for his teammates which a home defender blocked with his hand, giving the referee little choice but to award an Exeter penalty. Captain Louis Morison confidently despatched the spot-kick to give his team the early advantage.
The Grecians used that goal as a morale-boosting springboard, and they began to dictate play from then on. On 17 minutes, they doubled their lead courtesy of some neat build-up play. Alfie Pond won back the ball, before two switches of play led to A Trialist beating his opponent on the flank. His ball into the box was met by Nelson Iseguan at the far post, and the winger converted from close range.
From the resulting kick-off, Gribble’s men really stamped their authority on the game with their third score. Having won themselves a free-kick, Jack Veale delivered the ball into the box for Cheick Diabate to divert the ball past the Argyle goalkeeper.
The scoreline remained the same as the two sides went into the interval, but in the second period the hosts switched their shape in an attempt to work themselves back into the contest. Little changed however, as the visitors enjoyed more possession, and as a consequence, more territory.
Near the hour mark, their dominance resulted in their fourth goal of the afternoon. After winning the ball back, it was then squared into the 18-yard box. The ball fell to the trialist, who turned and shot low into the bottom corner to extend the Exeter cushion to four goals.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Grecians sealed their emphatic victory with a fifth and final goal. An attacking set-piece saw the Plymouth defence clear the ball, but it fell kindly for the away side when striker Frank Lovett collected the rebound and turned the ball home.
With time running out, Gribble’s men continued to come forward, and searched for more goals to complete what was turning into a disappointing day for the green side of the county. Sonny Cox was introduced off the bench and forced a good save from the opposition keeper, whilst Iseguan threatened with two decent chances late on, but the wide man was unable to add to his own, as well as his team’s, goal tally.
Next up for City is a tasty looking fixture at home to AFC Bournemouth’s under-18s, who sit a point and a place behind the Grecians in the table.
Exeter City under-18s coach Chad Gribble, said: “One of the most pleasing aspects of our performance was the way we were able to take our chances. Our performance levels were similar to those we have put in recently, however here we have managed to take our opportunities. They didn’t have any real clear cut openings, and we never took our foot off the gas. It was a pleasing day.
“Everyone was excellent. When games end up with this kind of scoreline, they can often not give a fair reflection of the contest. Here was a day when we were at our best, and they perhaps weren’t. We maximised our opportunities, but we weren’t head and shoulders above them. We had a fast start, and we scored three goals in quick succession, which came at a good time.
“Days aren’t always like this so I have to give credit to the players. You can always come away fro games wanting to do something better, and they had a spell at 3-0 down when they put us under a bit of pressure. Thankfully we defended that but I would have liked to have stayed in control.
“I feel this was perhaps our most complete performance. We have had recent performances that have been similar, but where we haven’t taken our chances. But with our goals here, it made things that more pleasing.
“Frank Lovett was handed his first start and I was pleased he grabbed his goal, and Zeph Collins came in and performed well. With several players out, and with the younger guys coming in, it showed we have good strength in depth. I’m really pleased as that adds a healthy competition and keeps all the players on their toes.
“Next up is AFC Bournemouth for us, who have started the season well, and always provide a difficult game. We can go into that fixture full of confidence, however we do respect them and the ability they have because they end up performing well year after year.”
Exeter City under-18s: Jack Arthur, Cheick Diabate, Jack Stafford, Alfie Pond, Zeph Collins, Louis Morison, Alex Moyse, Jack Veale, Nelson Iseguan, A Trialist, Frank Lovett. Subs: Michael Lilley, Harry Lee, Sonny Cox, Eli Collins, Dan Preece.