A young Exeter City side progressed into round three of the Devon St Luke’s Bowl with a controlling 2-1 victory over Honiton Town.
The contest began as a scrappy affair, with the territory favouring Town’s players during the early exchanges. However, with no real threat on the Grecians’ goal, Chad Gribble’s side settled into a rhythm after 10 minutes and rather dominated possession.
After creating several half-chances, the first clear cut opportunity came after a quarter of an hour when Max Edgecombe’s good work down the left side led to the full-back crossing for Eli Collins, however, the midfielder's shot was well saved by the hosts’ goalkeeper.
Four minutes later, City did manage to break the deadlock. Edgecombe again progressed well down the wing, and his centre located Joe Wragg. The winger's resulting effort flew past the ‘keeper from the middle of the penalty area to make it 1-0.
Exeter scored again in the 35th minute after Wragg won a free-kick out wide. Collins took responsibility and swung in a wicked ball that deceived everyone, with the ball going into the back of the net directly to double the lead.
After the break, Honiton looked to be more aggressive, however, the away team still maintained their control.
Town’s biggest threat came on the counter-attack, and despite them looking to take advantage of the shortage of numbers, Gribble’s men defended those situations solidly.
City’s players enjoyed lengthy spells of possession, and managed the game well throughout the second period. But the home side did pull a goal back eight minutes from time following an Exeter corner; Honiton countered quickly, getting to a loose ball in the middle of the park first, before a shot from 35 yards looped over a stricken Andrew Sowden to set up a tense finish.
However, lots of blocks and dominating headers from the visitors meant, despite the aerial bombardment that came in the final 10 minutes, it was Exeter who held on for a deserved victory, and it will be their name that will be in the hat for the third round draw.
Exeter City Youth Team Head Coach, Chad Gribble: “I’m really pleased with our dominance, particularly in the first half. We stood up to their early pressure, but they didn’t really get us on the back foot, and when they did, we quickly got back on top.
“We passed the ball really well, and played with good speed and energy. There was a little drop in the second half, but that was down to our recent amount of matches, and not really needing to score. We managed the game well, and overall it was a pleasing night.”
Exeter City: Andrew Sowden, Harrison King, Toby Nevile, Ed James, Max Edgecombe, Gabriel Billington, Michael Lilley, Eli Collins, Joe Wragg, Joe O’Connor, George Spencer
Subs: Dan Preece, Alfie Cunningham, Harvey Dorothy, Charlie Hanson