Friday night will see a young Exeter City side clash with Bideford AFC in the final of the Bayside Graphics Devon St Luke’s Challenge Cup for a chance of silverware, and the opportunity to end the season on a high.
The game will kick-off at 7:15pm at Coach Road, Newton Abbot, the home of Devon FA, where supporters will be allowed to attend and entry is payable on the gate at £5 for adults and £3 for concessions. Under-10s will be free and the match will be streamed live on Devon FA's YouTube.
Bideford, known at The Robins, compete in the Southern League Division One South and come into the game off the back of back-to-back league victories over Willand Rovers and Mangotsfield United. The North Devon side received a bye in the first round of this season’s Devon Bowl, before thrashing Stoke Gabriel & Torbay Police 6-0 in round two back in November. A 1-0 victory in the quarter-final over Tiverton Town saw them advance into the final four, before they defeated Buckland Atheltic 2-1 in the semis to qualify for this week's showpiece match.
How we got to the final
City’s cup run began back in September when they visited Plymouth Marjon in round one. A 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Eli Collins and Sonny Cox saw them progress.
In the second round away at Honiton Town, Joe Wragg and Eli Collins netted in a 2-1 win.
A cool finish from George Spencer, as well as an Axminster Town own goal, saw Exeter’s youngsters book their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
A comprehensive display of finishing against Tavistock AFC in March saw the Grecians secure their spot in the final with a 4-1 victory. An own goal, on top of strikes from Charlie Hanson, Tom Dean, and Alfie Cunningham proved too good for Tavvy in the end.
Kevin Nicholson's thoughts
Ahead of Friday’s big occasion, ECFC’s Head of Coaching and Player Development, Kevin Nicholson, previewed the game, and admitted that the contest was a great opportunity to end what has been a long season on a real positive note.
“Friday’s cup final will see the players face a men’s side who will really want to beat them. It is a chance to end the season in a bright way for the boys, as they know things will be tough for all of them next season.
“We can go into the game with a bit of confidence as we have shown a lot of good things recently. A few weeks ago, against Oxford, we played some nice stuff but ultimately just lost out, and after beating a Tavistock team who have just been promoted 4-0 in the semi-finals, I think that shows just how good a result that was.
“Bideford are at the level above Tavistock, and we know it will be tough, and a really good challenge for the players. I’m expecting it to be quite physical, and different to an Academy game for us. With men’s football, you have players who know those little nuances, and it’ll be an opportunity for them to ‘beat up’ the boys and for them to try and intimidate us. We have got to be brave to take the physical pressures put onto us, and make use of our advantage of full-time training and higher fitness levels. We will have to avoid being dragged into a fight, and it may come down to whether we can keep the ball and keep possession away from them.
“It has a been a long season, and a massive learning curve for the players. Victory would be an amazing way to see the season out for the boys, but they know they have to make sure they prepare well, and deliver on Friday.”
- Kick-off: 7:15pm
- Venue: Coach Road, Newton Abbot
- Adults: £5
- Concessions: £3
- U10s: free
How to Follow
We will have live coverage on our social media feeds on the night.
Devon FA will also be streaming the match live on their YouTube channel.