Exeter City earned the bragging rights in the Devon Derby after they defeated Plymouth Argyle 3-1 last Saturday in the Youth Alliance South West division.
Lewis Wilson’s header got the Grecians off to a flying start, however parity was restored in the seventh minute when the away side netted from a set-piece.
On 27 minutes Exeter retook the lead when Cheick Diabate powered in Jack Veale’s corner, and Nelson Iseguan added a third in the second half.
City were hoping to bounce back following last week’s defeat to Yeovil Town, and they looked to take charge of the contest from the opening minute.
It was some neat build-up play from Exeter’s youngsters that brought the first goal of the day. A short free-kick resulted in Jack Stafford hitting a brilliant diagonal pass to Harry Ford out wide. The winger created space to cross, and Wilson managed to wriggle free of the defence to win the aerial duel and guide a header into the goal.
The hosts more than deserved their early breakthrough because of their fast start, however, their lead lasted just two minutes as Plymouth levelled in a more straight forward fashion.
The away side looked to build some offensive pressure, and they won themselves a corner which got whipped into the centre. Poor defending allowed one Argyle forward to reach the ball unmarked, and he managed to divert his headed effort beyond Jack Arthur.
The five minutes that followed saw the game become stretched, with neither team able to get into any rhythm.
However, it was Chad Gribble’s side that settled first, and they enjoyed several decent passages of play as they looked to reestablish an advantage. Despite looking particularly threatening down both flanks, the final product was missing until 18 minutes before the interval.
Jack Veale curled in a corner and Diabate lost his man amongst the bodies in the penalty box to send an unmarked header into the back of the net for 2-1.
At the start of the second half, the Pilgrims asked several questions of their opponents as they pressed for a second equaliser, and in spite of several blocks and crosses cleared away during some desperate times, it meant City were able to keep their lead.
The home team soon saw possession and territory come their way again, and in the 65th minute, they managed to establish a two-goal cushion to give themselves some breathing space on the scoreboard.
Veale slipped the ball to Iseguan who raced onto it as the goalkeeper started to advance. The wide man demonstrated superb composure as he lifted the ball over the shot-stopper and into the goal to put his side well in command.
As the game entered the final stages, the Grecians looked to add more to their haul. Substitutes Ben Chrisene, Frank Lovett and Ellis Johnson all combined which saw Chrisene inches away from converting a lovely move, whilst Iseguan and Max Clark continued to terrorise down the left, with one teasing delivery evading everyone when things started opening up for them.
The three points gained by City have confirmed they will finish fourth in the league standings, despite having their final match against Bristol Rovers still to play next week.
Exeter City under-18s coach, Chad Gribble, said: “Firstly, we started really fast which I am delighted with, which meant we got them on the back foot. We deserved our goal early on, but the way we conceded was disappointing. Looking back it was their only effort on our goal which shows the control we had. Ideally, in a match like that, we wanted to come away with a clean sheet.
“We showed a reaction to last week’s performance with our energy levels here. Our industrious side and work rate went missing last week, but this week showed that you need those things in every game. That gives you the platform to go and play.
“We made good decisions and got the ball in areas we thought we could hurt them in. In an ideal world, we would’ve liked to have seen more end product but you can’t ask for too much more after getting three goals here. One goal came from a set-piece which we pride ourselves on, one goal came from an area we thought we could exploit them, and one came from some good initiative from Jack Stafford where the players reacted from the cross-field pass.
“The team out of possession gave us the platform to perform here. The front players applied pressure to the Plymouth backline with great intensity, and, to do that on a big pitch for a long time they deserve plenty of credit. Jack Stafford and Cheick Diabate were rocks at the back, and I don’t think they lost a header all day. It was a really mature performance from those two.
“We play Bristol Rovers next weekend, and it will be interesting to see how our boys play. Everyone knew how much was at stake here with it being a local derby and we had the chance to go up two places in the table, however next week, there isn’t as much riding on it. If we set our stall out like we have done here, that will put us in a good position. We were more like ourselves here after last week’s defeat, so hopefully we can use this, and next week’s friendly match as good preparation for the Merit League which starts in a few weeks time.”
Exeter City Under-18s: Jack Arthur, Cheick Diabate, Jack Stafford, Alfie Pond, Max Clark, Louis Morison, Alex Moyse, Jack Veale, Nelson Iseguan, Harry Ford, Lewis Wilson. Subs: Ben Chrisene, Harry Lee, Ellis Johnson, Frank Lovett, A. Trialist