Exeter City secured safe passage to the third round of the FA Youth Cup with comfortable 3-0 win at Forest Green Rovers.
George Spencer added to his trio in the first round with another goal in the first half in Gloucestershire, before Pedro Borges and Mitch Beardmore added late efforts to put gloss on a professional and complete performance from the young Grecians.
Brad-Lee Miller was without leading striker Sonny Cox for the trip to Nailsworth due to a groin strain, but the side was otherwise unchanged from the one that started the 4-3 victory over Newport in the First Round. Forest Green played their round one tie just a week ago, overcoming Eastleigh in a 3-2 win, and despite starting on the front foot at the New Lawn, it was the Young Grecians who showed the intent, with Aamir Daniels causing plenty of problems down the left hand side.
Jose Marquez, who scored the long range winner for Rovers against Eastleigh, had the first chance for the home side as his looping header landed on the roof of the net after a dangerous cross, but back came City, as Alfie Clark laid off Daniels’ cross into the path of Spencer, who but for some mis-control, would have had a clear shot at goal.
As the game edged towards half-time, Harry Lee was called into serious action for the first time in quick succession. Jotham McLaughlin found himself through on goal, but the City stopper showed great bravery to quickly narrow the angle and parry the angle, before rebounding the ball off the attacker for a goal kick. Murphy Bennett then had a golden chance to take the lead for Forest Green, but Lee once again got his fingertips to it.
Those saves would prove crucial as City took the lead against the run of play. Spencer, who bagged a hat-trick in the previous round, was man of the moment again as he received the ball from Gabriel Billington, who showed great skill to play him through, before rounding the keeper to take City into the break with a one-goal lead.
The home side came out in the second half with fire in their bellies, as the heat ramped up on a chilly and wet evening. Both sides fell foul of needless and ill-disciplined tackles, with the referee sensible controlling and calming the game in a professional manner.
When order was restored and football was played, City continued to control the game and Spencer almost added a second when he forced a save from Dylan John in the Rovers goal, though Miller’s men weren’t all having it their own way. Lee was forced into a point blank save from Finley Bell, before back at the other end, John saved Ed James volley from the edge of the box.
It wasn’t until two minutes from normal time when City put daylight between themselves and the hosts, as substitute Borges doubled the lead. It was a lovely solo goal from the young Portuguese, receiving the ball on the edge of the box, weaving into the area past two defenders before coolly placing under the goalkeeper.
City could have been forgiven for playing the game out, but they weren’t done. Like their senior team counterparts, late goals aren’t a bad habit to have and it was Beardmore who made it three in stoppage time. All the hard work came from another sub, Alfie Cunningham, who shimmied his was down the left flank before finding Beardmore inside the area to slot home and send the young Grecians waltzing into the next round.
City XI: Lee, King, Joce, Billington, James, Simmons, Beardmore, O’Connor (Borges), Spencer, Clark (Cunningham), Daniels (Edgecombe).
Subs not used: Sowden, Dean, Richards, Cavendish.