Exeter City were defeated in an 11-goal thriller at Portsmouth in the latest round of Youth Alliance South West League matches.
Lewis Wilson (2), Ben Chrisene, Jack Stafford and Cheick Diabate were all on target for the Grecians but it did not prevent them from slipping to defeat.
City took the game to Portsmouth in the opening stages, with two quick goals inside the opening quarter of an hour.
First Harry Ford's cross was met by Wilson to score before he then netted another after profiting from a Chrisene shot that had been parried by the goalkeeper. That double blow for the hosts, saw them spark into life not long after, and they halved the deficit when a long ball from their defence dropped 18 yards from goal. One attacker pounced on the ball and finished well to make it 2-1.
In the 29th minute, the Devonians re-established their two-goal cushion. Zeph Collins’ precise pass located Wilson, before the forward slid the ball to Chrisene, who finished the move off nicely.
That conceded effort prompted a response again from Portsmouth, and on 40 minutes they pulled one goal back. A delivery from the right-hand side, led to a switch of play, before Diabate fouled his opponent in the penalty box. The resulting spot-kick was despatched, and the momentum swung in the home side’s favour.
The game was level a minute before the interval when one Pompey striker slipped in his teammate from the wing, and he finished smartly to restore parity.
A dramatic period at the beginning of the second 45 minutes saw four goals shared out in seven minutes between the two teams.
The table-toppers struck first five minutes after the restart, but seconds later, that goal was cancelled out by one from visitors. Jack Veale sent a high ball into a dangerous area, and Diabate was the first man to get on the end of it, and he sent it goal bound, past the opposing keeper.
In the 56th minute, the hosts netted again, but from the resulting kick-off, Exeter were to find a goal themselves to make it five goals apiece. Veale delivered a free-kick into the 18-yard box, and Stafford leapt highest to head the ball home to score the 10th strike of the afternoon.
As the time ticked by, the match then became tenser. Gribble’s men squandered two decent opportunities that may have stolen them all three points as Nelson Iseguan flashed an effort wide of the post and Louis Morison tried slipping in substitute Frank Lovett only for a vital interception to prevent a goalscoring chance.
With the Portsmouth defence able to stop that attack, they countered themselves in the last minute with a hope of nicking the win. After linking up effectively as they progressed up the pitch in a swift fashion, the home team finished the move off perfectly, breaking the hearts of the City players as they scored what was the winning goal close to the final whistle.
Exeter City under-18s, coach, Chad Gribble, said: "It’s certainly frustrating. Managing to score five goals away from home, against a team who are top of the league and don’t concede many, it’s frustrating we didn’t even get a point.
“The way that both teams were defending, it was a contest that was anyone's to win. We showed some fantastic quality on the ball, and to go up one end of the pitch when it looks like you may win it, and then they counter from that and win the game themselves, it’s tough to take.
“Some of the goals we conceded are frustrating, and I thought it was uncharacteristic of us, but we did score five decent goals ourselves. It’s not really a positive as we’ve come away with nothing from the game, but hopefully, the boys learn from this.”
Exeter City Under-18s: Jack Arthur, Cheick Diabate, Jack Stafford, Alfie Pond, Zeph Collins, Louis Morison, Ben Chrisene, Jack Veale, Nelson Iseguan, Harry Ford, Lewis Wilson. Subs: A.Trialist, Michael Lilley, Frank Lovett