They've done it! Exeter City’s under-16s have lifted the EFL Floodlit National Cup after a sensational 7-3 turnaround win against Crewe Alexandra at Cirencester Town’s Corinium Stadium.
A four goal haul from Sonny Cox and further goals from George Spencer, Mitch Beardmore and Alfie Clark saw the young Grecians come from 3-1 down at half time to secure the silverware in stunning style.
Having successfully manoeuvered their way out of group stage that included Category B side Bristol City, wins over Cheltenham Town and Luton Town saw City matched with the famed academy of Alexandra. However, the Cheshire outfit were no match for Chris McPhee’s dynamite youngsters, whose second half performance swept them away.
City started brightly and could have been ahead inside the opening minute when a header was cleared off the line by a Crewe man, and were showing some good footwork when Callum Thomas looked to release Cox early on.
Young Slovak striker Matus Holicek had the first chance for the Alex as he drove in from the left and saw his effort deflected wide for a corner, which was dealt with well by the young Grecians.
Despite this, City were comfortable in possession and took less than a quarter of an hour to open the scoring as good work in midfield allowed Cox the space to press forwarded, laying the ball nicely for Spencer to fire home.
Within five minutes though, Crewe were level as Holicek was given the time to fire past Andrew Sowden from the edge of the area.
This gave the Cheshire side a boost and they took control of the match, scoring the game’s third goal in nine minutes to lead the match. After conceding a corner, City were unable to clear the ball and this allowed Harry Griffiths to poke home.
Although behind, City were still looking confident going forward and could have leveled when Spencer and Cox linked up well again, this time the former finding the latter in the area, but a Crewe toe turned it behind. Back at the other end, Sowden had to be at his best to produce a stunning save from a long-range effort.
He could unfortunately do nothing about Crewe’s third, as a driving run on the right from Sam Bhatti saw him find Griffiths once again on the edge of the area to thump the ball home.
City started the second half brightly and could have been awarded a penalty just seconds in, but the referee waved away all shouts for handball.
Nevertheless, City did peg Crewe back to just a goal’s lead with a fine solo effort from Mitch Beardmore. He picked up the ball on the edge of the box and drove it, shimmying the defender with a drop of the shoulder before firing into the top of the net.
This galvanised the young Grecians and they could have been level when Beardmore connected to a Cox corner and headed just wide., and they were then given a golden chance to make it 3-3 from the penalty spot.
After a superb ball into the area, Clark was bundled over in the six yard box which gave Cox the opportunity to level it up. Goalkeeper Matthew Laycock made the initial save, but the young striker made no mistake with the rebound and slotted home with aplomb.
City weren’t done with three, however, and soon they had completed a stunning comeback to lead with the game’s seventh goal. In what comes as little surprise to those of a Grecian persuasion, it was Cox again who found the back of the net as he raced through the center of the park and went all the way to goal, firing low into the bottom corner.
But still, there was more. Harrison King did well to control the ball on the left before cutting in and he found an on rushing Cox in the area with a perfect weighted chip. With all the time in the world he took it first time put the game out of sight.
A fifth City goal in as little as 20 second half minutes came 90 seconds later as Clark tapped home from close range after Crewe failed to deal with a ball into the area.
City were then awarded a second penalty to add further gloss to the scoreline after Beardmore was brought down in the box, but Cox smashed his effort against the crossbar.
That didn’t matter though, as moments later he did indeed grab his fourth of the evening, poking home from a corner.
Seventh heaven for City, and that capped off a superb evening for the young Grecians. It’s one that will certainly live long in their memories. Sonny Cox – remember the name.
City XI: Sowden, Johns-Kouadio, Preece, James, Thomas, King, O’Connor, Billington, Spencer, Clark, Cox
Subs: Vinson, Smith, Joce, Edgecombe, Beardmore, Jones, Laird.
Crewe XI: Laycock, Bhatti, Sant, Crolla, Kempster-Down, Fisher, Griffiths, Washington, Woodcock, Holicek, German.
Subs: Bavington, Catesby, Okolo, Nolan.