Exeter City’s Under-18s secured their second consecutive draw courtesy of a 0-0 scoreline against Oxford United U18s on Saturday.
The Grecians looked in control for large periods, and never really looked in trouble as the U’s struggled to properly test the City goalkeeper.
Up the other end, attackers Kieran Wilson, George Birch and Theo Cutler all came close to finding a breakthrough, however, they were unable to convert their best opportunities.
The point gained lifts the Devonians into seventh in the Youth Alliance South West division, ahead of a midweek Floodlit Cup game for the Under-17s, and next weekend’s Youth Alliance Cup clash at Sutton United U18s.
ECFC Under-18s Lead Coach, Tom Donati, handed a first start to a trialist in the Exeter goal, while Cutler came back into the team to lead the forward line following his absence for the match against Cheltenham Town U18s.
Playing at the Cliff Hill Training Ground for the first time since the end of August, a strong opening from the hosts rather typified how the afternoon panned out.
After a week of solid preparation in the build-up to the game, the Grecians quickly nullified the Oxford threat, while using their tactical knowledge to create openings of their own, however, they were unable to take full advantage.
The away team began to create a few half-chances as the first half went on, but the Devon club’s trialist never had a real save to make, and it was his teammates that moved the ball better and looked the more dangerous.
Donati’s men consistently got the ball into some advanced areas of the pitch, however, the final piece of the jigsaw to send the ball past Monty Marriott was the only thing missing.
A strong penalty appeal came from the home side which was turned down by the officials, while they also hit the post three times, through Wilson, Birch and Alfie Cunningham.
Leo Snowden squandered United’s best opening, while Exeter’s Cutler continued to be a menace to the opposition goalkeeper and defence courtesy of his goalscoring instincts, and he came agonisingly close to snatching a winner when he flashed an effort across the face of goal.
But ultimately despite both team’s efforts, when the referee blew for full-time, neither were able to find a way through. That meant the Grecians secured their first clean sheet of the season, which will give the players confidence ahead of some important cup ties coming up for some of their players.
Exeter City’s Under-18s Lead Coach, Tom Donati: “That was certainly one of our better performances so far this season. I’m glad we managed to keep a clean sheet, but I am slightly gutted that we didn’t get the win. We managed to create a lot of chances, and when Oxford had their moments, I thought we looked comfortable out of possession.
“It was a mature performance from Scott Simmons, and Sam Joce who captained the side, while I thought Alfie Cunningham made a real impact on the game and helped us create some good opportunities.
“We prepped slightly differently, and that was probably the best prepared we have been for a game. From the first minute, we knew what Oxford would throw at us, and that helped us gain more control. They still had a couple of chances which gave them a lift, but our goalkeeper had no real saves to make in the 90 minutes.
“We showed some good composure and got the ball into the right areas, but we just had some players missing in the vital positions at times. We had a blatant penalty turned down, and we’ve hit the post three times, but we couldn’t break the deadlock. We looked a bit more dangerous at set pieces, but it is encouraging really as getting into the areas to score. But the real positive of the day is the clean sheet as we defended more effectively, and our goalkeeper didn’t have a lot to do.”
Exeter City Under-18s: A.Trialist, Tom Dean, Liam Oakes, Sam Joce, Scott Simmons, Aamir Stanford-Daniels, Giulio Marroni, Alfie Cunningham, George Birch, Kieran Wilson, Theo Cutler
Subs: Rafa Beadman, Jack Anthony, Harry Crees, Rohullah Mohammadi