Exeter City's under-18s suffered their second defeat of the season when they lost 4-1 against AFC Bournemouth's under-18s last Saturday.
The visitors made a quick start and scored within the opening few minutes when a cross from the right flank was slotted home at the far post.
The Cherries scored in a similar fashion 16 minutes later, but it seemed to breath new life into the Exeter ranks, and they halved the deficit just before the interval through Lewis Wilson.
Despite a promising start to the second half from the Grecians, with substitute Frank Lovett going close, two further goals, both on the counter-attack, sealed the victory for the Dorset club.
It was a day that provided some difficult moments for Gribble’s men, none more so than in the first two minutes.
Following a fast and positive start, the away team worked the ball to the right-hand side. One Bournemouth attacker stole a yard before crossing, and with his teammate getting ahead of full-back Alfie Pond, the striker converted from close range to hand his team the early initiative.
The goal started a dominating spell for the visitors, and they doubled their lead in the 18th minute in almost an identical manner.
After switching the play to the right-wing once again, the winger sent a ball into a dangerous area. On hand at the back post was a Cherries’ forward, and he tapped in to make it 2-0 with relative ease.
The two early strikes were certainly wake up calls to the hosts, and they worked themselves back into the contest with more possession.
Nelson Iseguan led a break for City, but his effort was blocked from the edge of the penalty area, whilst captain Louis Morison sent a free header over the crossbar moments later.
The momentum had certainly shifted, and just a minute before the break, the home side pulled a goal back. Following a set-piece delivery into the 18-yard box, a fumble by the Dorset goalkeeper allowed Wilson to pick up the rebound. The poacher took advantage and fired past a helpless shot-stopper.
Despite the early second-half promise from Chad Gribble’s men, it was the away team who netted the fourth goal of the afternoon; Bournemouth using the ball wisely on a swift counter-attack, with their attacking players finishing the move off perfectly to hand the initiative back to the visitors.
The hosts paid the ultimate price once again seven minutes from time, as another break from the Cherries led to another goal. The Dorset side passed the ball around effectively, taking advantage of the extra space to give keeper Jack Arthur no real chance of keeping out their fourth goal.
It meant City’s youngsters suffered just their second loss of the season, but they give themselves the perfect chance to put that right when they visit Hampshire next week, to face unbeaten Portsmouth in another testing encounter.
Exeter City under-18s Coach, Chad Gribble, said: “I thought the 4-1 score line didn’t reflect the entire performance. I thought it reflected the first 20 minutes and last 20 minutes, but what it didn’t reflect was the effort showed by the boys. The score line showed how ruthless Bournemouth were in front of goal.
“It’s never a great scenario when you go behind early, but we never really defended well enough in those opening 20 minutes. We lacked a bit of toughness and intensity in our defending, and good teams will punish you if you aren’t at it. We made a change after 20 minutes which worked but by that time we had a bit of a mountain to climb.
“I have to still give credit to the boys. They worked extremely hard, and if we had got a better start, and applied our plan better, then it may have been a different game.
“The first two goals weren’t defended in the way we would have liked, and if you don’t get your plan right, you can get hurt. When we did have a spell in the game, we made some indifferent decisions and we gave the ball away to a talented team, who ultimately made us pay. Bournemouth are a good side.
“We are away to Portsmouth next. They are also unbeaten but we have a chance to put this right. The results at the weekend went our way, so if we can get something, then we can remain within touching distance of the top two. We will continue to try and be the best we can be, and make sure we can apply the plan we set out to the best of our ability. That will then give ourselves the best chance of getting a positive result.”
Exeter City under-18s: Jack Arthur, Cheick Diabate, Jack Stafford, Alfie Pond, Max Clark, Louis Morison, Ben Chrisene, Jack Veale, Nelson Iseguan, Harry Ford, Lewis Wilson
Subs: A.Trialist, Harry Lee, Alex Moyse, Frank Lovett, Zeph Collins
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