Lee Martin was full of praise for the younger members of his side as Exeter City beat Ipswich Town 2-1 in the Leasing.com Trophy Third Round, as Lee himself grabbed an injury-time winner.
Nicky Ajose had given the Grecians the lead just before half-time with a composed finish from close range, before Will Keane levelled for the visitors early in the second-half. Lee then met Nigel Atangana’s header in the 93rd minute of play to finish beyond Tomas Holy to send City into the quarter-finals.
“It’s always nice to pop up with a winner, especially when the fans are giving you a bit of grief – it’s all light-hearted banter but it’s still nice to come out on top," said Lee. "I thought the boys were excellent today with a young squad and ten changes – it’s testament to the strong squad that we have, but also the young boys who are stepping up every day. You’ve seen today that they have a bright future – it’s very pleasing to sit back and watch that before coming on against a top outfit, fifth in League 1, right up there – and I think we deserved the result.”
The side featured 10 changes from last week’s game win against Forest Green, with a host of academy products featuring in the starting eleven. It was something that didn’t elude Lee, as he was full of praise for the younger players.
“You see these youngsters getting a chance, and they don’t waste it," said Lee. "It’s refreshing to see youngsters come in and make a difference, make a change. We were energetic from the off, competed well and were fantastic on all fronts, and thoroughly deserved the win.
Lee hoped the win, which now sees City stretch their run to one defeat in 15 in all competition, can help spur them on in League Two as well.
"Momentum is definitely important; it’s massive in football whether it be a cup run or in the league," he said. "The key point today was momentum; it’s another win, it keeps us going, builds confidence, and shows we’re not just a good team but a great squad as well. We’ve got players coming back in Nicky Ajose and Gary Warren, who are experienced pros as well so we can’t be in a better place right now.”
Finally, Lee talked about keeping focus ahead of an important run of games: “It’s exciting to be two games away from Wembley – but we’ve still got to perform. We have a couple of days off now and our focus shifts back to the league, we need to stay focused and deal with games as they come, keep level-headed, avoid getting carried away and keep working hard.”
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