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Match Reports

📝 U18 Match Report: City 4 Newport County 3

Derek Baker reports as City u18s progress

26 October 2022

Match Reports

📝 U18 Match Report: City 4 Newport County 3

Derek Baker reports as City u18s progress

26 October 2022

Exeter City’s under-18s advanced into round two of the FA Youth Cup after a seven goal thriller with Newport County U18s at St James Park on Wednesday evening.

George Spencer’s first half hattrick, as well as a strike from Ed James, gave the Grecians a commanding 4-0 lead at half-time.

But a resurgent County side came out after the break with real belief, and goals from Jonah Williams, Tom Stokes and Alfie Young set up a tense finish.

But City’s youngsters showed decent game management during the final stages to seal their spot in the second round, with the hope that they replicate recent seasons and go on another hugely beneficial cup run in this campaign.

ECFC Under-18s Coach, Brad Miller, re-introduced the likes of James and Harry Lee into the starting XI following their first team duties, while George Spencer and Sonny Cox were partners in a new look attack.

The opening minutes saw the Grecians put together some nice patterns of play on the whole, however, they were unable to really get inside the opposition penalty area and threaten an early breakthrough.

The first real shot came from the visitors as Kiban Rai’s positive run ended with a tame effort from 20 yards, which Lee easily stopped.

But that was a small positive for Newport as the Grecians dictated most of the play. The result of that control was a deserved opener after quarter of an hour following some neat footwork from Scott Simmons. The defender dribbled his way past a few players before sending the ball down the line for Cox. The forward raced onto the through ball, before his low centre precisely found Spencer, who clinically finished to break the deadlock.

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And if one thought Exeter may sit back after that breakthrough, they would have been very much mistaken as a one-goal lead quickly became two. Captain Harrison King won his team a free-kick wide on the right, which saw Joe O’Connor stand over the set-piece. The midfielder whipped in a teasing ball, and up from the back, James cushioned the ball into the top corner for 2-0.

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Miller’s men were clearly in the ascendancy, and in the mood to add to the scoresheet. At the midpoint of the first period, Mitch Beadmore slipped in Cox, before the target-man flashed one just wide on the angle.

A frustrated County side were starting to lose their cool, and that was typified moments later when their skipper, Stokes, picked up an innocuous yellow card.

In the 28th minute, the hosts were at it again thanks to some lovely passing. Gabriel Billington’s diagonal was picked up by King, who had advanced forward down the right-hand channel. His low cross was met by Spencer, who wrong-footed Exiles goalkeeper, Ben Haines, to make it a three-goal game.

Despite holding a commanding lead the Grecians continued to not let their foot off the gas, and Spencer completed a first-half hattrick in the 32nd minute. Alfie Clark beat his opposite man with a turn of pace, before his dangerous ball picked out the striker, who took his chance neatly to make it 4-0 to further emphasise the Devonians’ prominent position. 

Hattrick.jpg

With the break on the horizon, Cox fizzed another chance just past the post when he was teed up by his strike partner, while up the other end, Newport’s Jonny Lewis put Lee through some routine goalkeeping when he tried his luck from a free-kick.

Injury time saw Cox just miss from a corner, but in truth, when the referee blew for half-time, Miller and the rest of the Exeter coaches left their dugout relatively satisfied by the opening 45 minutes.

City continued where they left off following the switch of ends. Attacking the Big Bank, Cox intercepted a loose pass before he slipped in Beardmore. The Grecians number 7 ran through 1v1, but his shot only found the legs of Haines, before Cox put the rebound millimetres wide.

In the 55th minute, another forward surge saw the home side win a free-kick on the right flank. Set-piece specialist, O’Connor, curled the ball into the danger area, before James forced the ‘keeper into a routine save.

The Welsh club showed more hunger and desire in the second period though, and they almost pulled a goal back when Stokes looked to move the ball on with a cross into the middle. His attempt took a nick of Simmons, before it clipped off the post and went behind. From the resulting corner, replacement, Noah Preston-Watkins powered one off-target.

Following a long-distance Lewis shot, County’s efforts were finally rewarded on the hour mark when the ball was moved nicely from right to left. Williams received the ball inside the box, before he turned past King and fired an effort between Lee’s legs to pull a goal back for his team.

In reply, O’Connor flashed a shot just past the upright from 22 yards, but, in truth, Newport held the momentum, and they grabbed another goal on 64 minutes. With James struggling with cramp, the visitors started another attacking wave, which in turn saw Preston-Watkins cannon a strike off the crossbar. With a few Exeter bodies scattered across the floor, Stokes smashed in the rebound from close-range to make things a little more interesting.

In amongst the aftermath, Miller turned to his subs and replaced the injured duo of James and Lee with Aamir Daniels and Andrew Sowden, which prompted a positive response from the personnel on the pitch. A minute later Cox stole possession, before he combined with Beardmore. The former latched onto a pass and cut in, before his shot brushed the post from the edge of the box.

As the game entered the final stages, and more people were introduced from the bench, the contest reached a quieter phase, however, that didn’t stop the Exeter attack from looking lively, and in the 85th minute, they were unfortunate not to register goal number five of the night. A low cross from the left found it’s way to Cox, before his side-footer was kept out by an amazing save from Haines’ legs.

But the resolve of the Welsh club didn’t lessen as the board went up for six additional minutes. A renewed energy saw the Exiles win a corner in the first minute of added time, which in turn saw Mallachi Graham locate substitute Young for a close-range header to make it 4-3 and set up a nervy ending.

But the resolve and togetherness of the home side saw them denied their opponents any further opportunities, which meant when the referee blew for full-time, it was the City supporters who were cheering the loudest, and its the Exeter name in the hat for round two.

Exeter City Under-18s: Andrew Sowden, Sam Joce, Ed James, Scott Simmons, Harrison King, Alfie Clark, Gabriel Billington, Joe O’Connor, Mitch Beardmore, George Spencer, Sonny Cox

Subs: Andrew Sowden, Aamir Daniels, Max Edgecombe, Jacca Cavendish, Tom Dean, Jake Edwards, Theo Cutler

Newport County Under-18s: Ben Haines, Evan Cadwallader, Mallachi Graham, Jonny Lewis, Fin Coleman, Harrison Page, Bradley Burchell, Tom McCallum, Tom Stokes, Kiban Rai, Jonah Williams

Subs: Fraser Needham, Riley Lonegran, George Jones, Kyle Hancock, Alfie Young, Noah Preston-Watkins, Ryan Shallis

Referee: Mark Senior

Attendance: 361


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