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Match Reports

📝 Under-17 Report: Swansea City 2 City 0

Derek Baker reports on a City friendly

20 April 2022

Exeter City’s Head of Coaching and Player Development, Kevin Nicholson, was left in an upbeat mood following the Academy's trip to Swansea City for an Under-17 friendly game last Wednesday.

“It was a really good game. It was great to see we could match up against a good side” said Nicholson, despite the Grecians unfortunately losing out 2-0.

With no Merit League fixture scheduled for the Easter weekend, the ECFC Academy coaches restructured the Under-18s timetable following their 1-1 draw with Portsmouth U18s.

Following on from some training sessions at the start of the week, Exeter's youth side travelled to South Wales on Wednesday with a squad that included the first-year scholars, several Under-16s, as well as Under-15, Jacca Cavendish.

Despite some difficulties in reaching the destination and taking over four hours to arrive, the Devonians took to the astroturf pitch in wonderful playing conditions and looked to go toe-to-toe with their opponents from the off.

However, the disruptive journey caught up with the visitors, and the Swans started on top, with them adopting their traditional approach of getting the ball down and putting together some intricate passing moves.

Nicholson’s men, however, grew into the game, and the contest became a good measure of two decent footballing teams. Ultimately, the match became a classic case of the ‘beautiful game’ with both teams trying to outpass one another and win possession high up the pitch.

The Grecians were in fact undone by two pieces of magic by the Welsh outfit which, in the end, made the difference on the scoreboard; the first goal coming courtesy of a pinpoint cross-field pass that split open the Exeter defence, while the second goal came courtesy of some neat exchanges between the home players.

However, despite the 2-0 scoreline, Nicholson travelled back to the Westcountry a satisfied man.

“It ended up being an enjoyable evening. We lost 2-0, but their first goal came from an undefendable pass from one of their players, and the second saw them manoeuvre their way through us. We had chances, but we just didn’t take them.

“One real positive to take away from the game was that we saw evidence of what we’ve been working on in training. Dan Green has come in and been really helpful in implementing stuff that the first-team and Under-23s do, like the way we play down the sides, and that was noticeable in the performance. You could tell the players have been taking on board the coaching they’re receiving at the minute.

“The game provided an opportunity for players who have not played a lot recently to get more minutes in. Joe O’Connor played a full 90 minutes after his return from injury, and Max Edgecombe played the full 90 as well and looked more like himself. Jacca Cavendish, our Under-15 who has featured for our Under-18s recently, played 60 minutes, which is his longest stint for us and didn’t look out of place playing in the middle of a back three. It ended up being one of those games which provided really good experiences for everyone.

“We’ve asked the boys to be braver on the ball in recent weeks, but that has been in difficult circumstances or on bobbly pitches, so they’ve been brave for trying that. But this game was different. We played on a nice pitch, in nice conditions, and we really made the most of that, particularly at the start of the second half where we got the ball down and produced some nice passages, moving the ball across the pitch.”

The ECFC Under-18s have three competitive matches remaining this season, which come in the shape of their two final Merit League fixtures, before they participate in the Devon St Luke’s Bowl final against Bideford AFC on May 6th. Nicholson explained what the players have done in preparation for their final flurry of games before the season comes to a close.

“The Easter weekend gave us the rare opportunity to rest and have some time off. We trained on Thursday, and on Friday we had the boys watch the first team. That was great for them because they were excellent. There was a lot of stuff going on that we’ve recently trained on, and they were able to see it on a first-team stage. The way that Archie Collins was moving the ball, there were some good examples of certain things and it was great that the players could watch that.

“The players had until Monday off, and came back in on Tuesday and trained well. The staff and players now know that we will be together from now up until the end of the season so we have two league games and a cup final to finish things off. Everything that the players do over the next few weeks will all be going into the mix for who starts that cup final at the end of the season.

“It is a bit of a strange place at the moment with Chad [Gribble] leaving. All of his season’s plans were gone with him, so now I’m asking the players to stick to their principles. Exeter aren’t a club that often sees a change in management, and you’ve seen that at the first-team level, so I’m not necessarily asking them to play for me, it is all about the players understanding the requirements of a game, and expressing that on the pitch. Principles don’t change, so when we press we have to go as a team, and when we are on the ball, we have to pass and move. Hopefully, we can go into the end of the season with a bit of momentum because those first-year scholars will soon be second years, with the others also stepping up, so there really isn’t any time to waste.”

Exeter City's Under-18s will be in action again on Saturday 23rd April when they play Oxford United U18s at Tiverton.


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