As day one of the new competitive season draws ever closer, Exeter City’s Under-18s were put through another tough period out on the training pitch, and rounded off the week with another positive performance in their latest friendly.
Following their 2-1 defeat to the Crystal Palace Academy, the Grecians returned from their few days' break with the hunger to continue their progress and development.
After ECFC U18s Lead Coach, Tom Donati, coached his players on Monday and Tuesday, the Devonians travelled to Bournemouth on Wednesday for another positive outing away from the Cliff Hill Training Ground.
Under the guidance of the beach training boot camp, Who Dares Gyms, City’s youngsters were put through some productive team-building exercises. The gym work, carried out on the sand on the south coast, was led by some ex-SAS recruits, which saw the Exeter players put under some extra physical and psychological strain, while also enhancing their preparations and fitness levels.
Following the day out to Dorset, Donati’s men then continued to train for two more days, before they travelled to Swansea City Under-18s for another exhibition match.
Donati summarised their outing to Wales and acknowledged how successful it became for his players.
“It ended up being a really good trip, and we achieved a good result in a way courtesy of a 0-0 draw. It was good to have defended well for 90 minutes. Dylan Shanahan made two good stops in his 60 minutes on the pitch, while Dan Layer had no real saves to make, so I’m extremely pleased from a defensive point of view.
“In the first half, they had a fair share of the possession, but they didn’t really hurt us with it. One moment saw their forward played through, but Dylan came up with a good one-on-one save. We rather limited them, and clean sheets can be hard to come by in youth football, but we showed a real togetherness and resilience. We had three Under-16s with us as well and they performed well too!
“We pressed well and defended in good areas, and we created chances through that. We also created openings from some good passing, which meant we had two or three good chances to score really. They had a few opportunities as well, but you could tell it was a game where the goalkeepers were on top and made some decent saves. It was pleasing to see that we held out, but I thought we looked good on the ball too.”
Following the game, Donati acknowledged that overall it had been a decent pre-season for his squad, and he was satisfied with where they were in their prep ahead of their opening match in the Youth Alliance South West division this Saturday.
“We have a bit of a difficult week ahead of us as there is a midweek game, which is more of an U21s fixture, so there may be some individuals involved with that, so that will make the week a bit more challenging, but we will try and prepare as normal the best we can.
“The boys, during this pre-season, have worked really hard and have been attentive as well with the messages we have been trying to give them. The group are getting stronger, and they have become more of a collective.
“It has been pleasing so far, but there is still plenty of work still to do before we start our season at home against Swindon Town U18s this coming weekend.”