Wednesday night sees Exeter City’s Under-18s play under the lights at St James Park once again when they compete in the third round of the FA Youth Cup against AFC Bournemouth in a 7pm kick-off.
The young Grecians reached round three after knocking out Plymouth Argyle at Home Park a month ago, before recording a thrilling 3-2 extra-time victory against Cheltenham Town in the last round. City’s opponents, however, play in the competition for the first time this season due to where the Bournemouth first-team are in the footballing ladder.
Despite both clubs competing in the Youth Alliance South West division, the two teams haven’t met one another for almost a year now. The Cherries came out on top that day last December in a 3-1 league victory, with Louis Morison netting the solitary goal for Exeter’s youngsters. This season, the Dorset side currently sit top of the Youth Alliance standings, unbeaten with 26 points from their opening 10 matches, while City find themselves in fourth place, 10 points behind their third-round opponents.
Bournemouth's defence have made a habit of shipping very few goals this year with just four goals conceded in the league so far. However, they'll be up against an in form Sonny Cox, who is the Grecians' top goalscorer in the FA Youth Cup this year with three strikes to his name. The striker will be hoping he can fire his team into round four of the competition for the first time since the 2015/16 season, when Exeter’s youth team were managed by Lee Skyrme.
Ahead of the Wednesday’s match, ECFC Under-18s Head Coach, Chad Gribble, acknowledged this was a cup tie his squad were ready for.
“I think we are going into Wednesday’s cup tie as underdogs, but there are bits of the performance from our last league match that we can take into it. We know a lot about them. They are the league leaders at the moment, and have a strong identity, and are good at what they do. We have beaten them before, but they’ve beaten us before too, and they like ourselves, are probably looking at us and thinking we have an identity and a way of playing too.
“It is certainly a game we are all looking forward to, and it is a chance to test ourselves in what is a one-off game. This is the third time the boys will have experienced playing in the competition, and playing in a stadium, and that is something Bournemouth haven’t got because they are only entering the competition in the third round because of where their first-team is in the football league pyramid. That experience might be something we can draw on, but first we want to be positive, and impose ourselves on the game.”
How to Watch
The match will be streaming LIVE for FREE on City's Youtube channel, with commentary from the Academy's Chris McPhee and Brad Lee-Miller.
You can check out the action by subscribing here, or tuning in from 6:45pm.
Exeter City 3 Cheltenham Town 2 | Nov 11 | SJP
A Sonny Cox double and a strike in extra-time from Ellis Johnson meant the young Grecians progressed to round three of the compeition.
Plymouth Argyle 2 City 3 | 4 November | Home Park
Exeter City won the Devon derby in extra time at Home Park in the first round. Sonny Cox and Toby Nevile scored to make it 2-2 at full time, before Joe Wragg popped up with the winner in extra time.