Exeter City’s Under-18s endured a difficult day in their first away game of the season as Portsmouth U18s defeated them 4-0 on Saturday.
Koby Mottoh opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before Maxwell Hurst doubled the lead with a neat left-footed strike.
Hurst added the day’s third after half-time when he smashed home from close range, before Mottoh sealed his own brace when the striker finished off a team move.
The result leaves the Grecians stuck on three points after two matches alongside three other clubs, while Pompey sit atop the table with a maximum haul.
Buoyed by their opening day victory against Swindon Town U18s, Tom Donati and his young squad travelled to Hampshire to see if they could build upon the solid foundations they built themselves just seven days before.
City saw Santino Ohanaka drafted into the starting XI in their only change, while Scott Simmons came into the squad following a brief injury lay-off.
But despite the positive vibes in the Devon camp, it was the home side who started the brighter and looked the more dangerous inside the opening quarter of an hour.
That strong start led to a Portsmouth breakthrough albeit in contentious circumstances. Brian Quarm advanced down the wing, before his cross was adjudged to have been handled by an Exeter player. Despite the protests, the officials stuck to their original decision, which allowed Mottoh the chance to score from 12 yards. Dylan Shanahan was given little chance as Mottoh converted expertly to open the scoring.
Even though the visitors had started on the backfoot, the goal was a real sucker-punch as they never gained a foothold from then on despite the amount of ground the team managed to cover.
Before half-time arrived, the hosts struck once more with Quarm heavily involved again. With the Pompey right flank causing all sorts of issues, Quarm’s inside pass located Hurst, who created space for a shot, before firing the ball past Shanahan to extend the advantage.
The Hampshire club’s momentum continued after the break, and Hurst netted his second of the afternoon following some bright work from Mottoh. The forward’s cross was only half-cleared, before Hurst was able to nip in and thump the ball into the back of the net despite the City appeals for offside in the build-up.
The result was sealed with a fourth goal a little later in the half when a flurry of passes moved Portsmouth up the pitch. Despite a scuffle for the ball in the attacking third, Mottoh added the final touch to divert the ball past the goalkeeper for 4-0.
With Donati’s men returning to Devon empty-handed, they will be hoping to bounce back with a reaction in their next game, however, with no league fixture this weekend, all their focus will be on the Devon Derby on 26th August.
Exeter City’s Under-18s Lead Coach, Tom Donati: “It was a rather flat say for everyone. Aamir Stanford-Daniels was perhaps our stand-out performer as he never stopped and was competitive for us for the most part. But we have to look at this as just one game, and, as I said after the Swindon match, this isn’t like we are at the end of the season.”
“We started relatively slow here, and although the penalty decision for the first goal had everyone aggrieved, it took the winds right out of our sails, but, in truth, I don’t think we never really had it, and we never really got going after that, which I take full responsibility for. The lads worked hard, but that was in the wrong areas at the wrong times.
“Another decision went against us which led to their third goal, and although we need to deal with those setbacks, we also need to be better in those moments. Coming into the game, we knew what to expect, and we felt like we were well prepared, and although we went with a weaker squad, physically, and in terms of numbers, I didn’t see the game panning out like this as we didn’t show the fight, togetherness and cohesiveness we had done in previous weeks.
“Looking back, I think there are loads of things to work on. I think this game really highlighted to everyone that competitiveness gets you further than quality. That isn’t to say Portsmouth didn’t have quality on the day, but they showed more competitiveness than us here. This is an extremely good wake-up call early on the players’ footballing journey. There are certainly areas we need to work harder on, but they did put some yards into their legs, so there was no thought that they weren’t trying out there.
“It would be nice to put this right quickly with another game, but with no league match this weekend, it allows us more time to get three or four more players up to speed, so the Saturday off has not come at a bad time for us. We have had four or five unavailable recently, so bringing them back will certainly help us, and the break will also give the others a chance to work hard and make a statement on why they should stay in the team.”
Exeter City Under-18s: Dylan Shanahan, Aamir Stanford-Daniels, Kye Cooper, Max Edgecombe, Liam Cartwright, Tom Dean, Guilio Maroni, Jake Richards, Alfie Cunningham, Santino Ohanaka, Theo Cutler
Subs: Dan Layer, Liam Oakes, Scott Simmons, Jack Anthony, George Birch