Match 12
17th September 2022
Burton Albion (home)

And in the Football League Youth Alliance
Bristol Rovers (away)

Match Report:
Exeter City 0 Burton Albion 2

A six minute double from Burton's Deji Oshilaja and Davis Keilor-Dunn condemned City to a 2-0 loss at home for only their second home defeat in the league this season.

After Tuesday's loss away to Shrewsbury, manager Matt Taylor made three changes to the starting XI with Alex Hartridge, Matt Jay and Jay Stansfield making his full debut coming in to replace Jack Sparkes, Harry Kite and Sam Nombe respectively.

After an impeccably observed minutes silence in memory of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and an emphatic rendition of the national anthem, the game got underway. 

With only 15 minutes played City were very much the team on top with Josh Key making a massive nuisance down the right hand side, finding Stansfield and Brown. 

After a frantic opening quarter of an hour, the next 15 minutes slowed down quite a bit, City were still in control of the football, but the visitors were starting to get into the game. Forcing a point blank save from Blackman in the City goal.

A little over half an hour on the clock Stansfield once again found himself behind the Burton defensive line, but unselfishly cut the ball back to the edge of the area. After playing around on the edge of the area, the ball found Jonathan Grounds on the left hand side but his cross ended up only finding the stand behind the goal. The Grecians were still very much bringing the pressure late in the first half.

Burton were not taking all of the pressure lying down though, with their corners causing trouble in City’s penalty area. The ball was bouncing around like a pin ball in front of Blackman but thankfully the ball was cleared away and the game remained goalless.

Right on the cusp of half time an unbelievable sliding challenge from Hartridge led to a Burton corner, with said corner resulting in Key blocking the ball on the goal line. A real heart in mouths moment for the City defence, but the sides went into the break level.

At the start of the second half, Taylor made one change with Kite coming on to replace Grounds - who picked up a muscle strain - resulting in a change of formation.

City came out of the blocks with a vengeance with the ball finding the back of the net after only three minutes of the second half played. But much to the annoyance of the Grecians, Matt Jay was offside in the build up to the goal, ruling out a first goal of the season for Stansfield. Footage suggested City were unfortunate, with the City skipper seemingly onside when the ball was played.

With 57 minutes gone the Big Bank almost exploded once again, half time replacement Kite found the ball on the right hand side and after a jinxing run past the Burton full back, the ball found Stansfield who’s effort was just about blocked on the line.

Completely against the run of play City found themselves 1-0 down in the 63rd minute. A mistake in the area saw the ball fall to Oshilaja in too much space and he slotted the ball past Blackman in the City net.

The winless visitors soon doubled their lead within six minutes. After another set piece into the box, City failed to deal with it again, this time Keilor-Dunn converted from close range.

City huffed and puffed in the final quarter, but were unable to find the back of the net, meaning Burton picked up their first win of the season.

The next game for City is an away trip to Forest Green, for an early televised kick off at The New Lawn Stadium on Saturday 24 September.

City: Blackman, Caprice (Sparkes), Sweeney, Hartridge, Grounds (Kite), Key, Harper, Collins, Jay (C) (Nombe), Brown, Stansfield (Smith)

Subs not used: Brown, Chauke, Cox

Burton Albion: Garrett, Brayford (C), Borthwick-Jackson, Oshilaja, Hughes, Powell, Keilor-Dunn (Carayol), Abeboyejo (Winnall), Taylor, Gilligan (Butcher), Hamer

Subs not used: Sinisalo, Onyango, Thorpe, Lakin,

Referee: Neil Hair

Attendance: 6185 (146 away)

Under-18 Report:
Bristol Rovers 0
Exeter City 3

Derek Baker reports on a fine win for the U18s

Exeter City’s Under-18s returned to duties in the Youth Alliance South West division with a comfortable 3-0 victory away at Bristol Rovers under-18s on Saturday.

Despite a relatively slow start to proceedings, the Grecians began to find their groove further into the first half, and they took the lead in the 43rd minute through George Spencer’s penalty.

The Devon outfit gathered further momentum after the break, and their fitness proved to be decisive, as Spencer netted his second as the closing stages approached.

Substitute Ed James added a third goal with 10 minutes remaining to seal the three points that took Exeter’s youngsters back up to third in the league standings.

ECFC’s under-18s Lead Coach, Kevin Nicholson, was hoping his young squad would take the lessons learnt from Tuesday night’s Devon Bowl defeat to Plymouth Parkway and apply them in their difficult trip up the M5.

Back into the team came Under-16 players, Jacca Cavendish, Theo Cutler, and Jake Richards, while Alfie Clark continued his comeback from injury with a start on the left-hand side.

However, in spite of the optimism surrounding City’s chances, Saturday’s contest began somewhat quietly, with the recovery of balls going out of play one factor in not allowing a free-flowing game.

Despite the players attempting to do the right things on the ball, the lack of tempo during the opening sequences frustrated the visitors’ coaching staff, with a hangover from Tuesday’s cup tie, or the early start, the potential reasons behind the laboured approach.

Because of the sluggish opening quarter, on 25 minutes the Grecians were thankful Andrew Sowden was at his best when he denied the Pirates following a swift breakaway when the odds were stacked against the goalkeeper.

That moment seemed to spur the Devonians into life, who built up more of a rhythm as the opening 45 progressed.

With half-time on the horizon, Nicholson’s men recaptured the spark that they had shown in their recent outings, and twice, with ventures into the 18-yard box, the referee failed to award an Exeter spot-kick despite the hefty challenges by the home defence.

Another City surge forward moments later resulted in another penalty shout which was again turned down, however, that was just further evidence which proved the momentum was truly shifting in the away team’s favour.

With two minutes left of the first period, arguably the softest of the shouts for a foul inside the area was finally given by the officials. Spencer stepped up, and the forward converted from 12-yards to hand his team the lead at the interval.

The Grecians continued on the front foot after the restart, and produced more moments of free-flowing football than they did in the first period.

The build-up play showed more positivity and dynamism, and while they weren’t completely at their best, they were good enough to dominate their opponents and continued to create numerous goalscoring opportunities.

The Devon club should have doubled their lead through Theo Cutler or Pedro Borges, however, both were guilty of impeding one another, and therefore the danger was eventually cleared by the retreating defenders.

Nicholson’s men though were never put off by their wasteful shooting, and always appeared to be the fitter and stronger side. Exeter’s conditioning meant they finished the contest in the ascendency, and, after 75 minutes, they were able to find the back of the net again.

Following a sustained amount of pressure, a dangerous ball across the Rovers goal located the in-form Spencer, and the striker confidently tucked away his second of the day to make it 2-0.

City continued to press their opponents as they looked to secure the three points. Their third goal should have come through Scott Simmons via a corner, however, the centre-back squandered the gilt-edged chance when right in front of goal.

That meant the visitors had to wait until the 80th minute to seal the victory. Despite a corner coming to very little, the Grecians kept things alive with another attacking wave. A menacing cross into the danger zone found its way to James, and the replacement made no mistake in finishing from close-range to increase the advantage and wrap up the win.

Exeter City’s Under-18s Lead Coach, Kevin Nicholson: “For the most part, it was a comfortable win, but, it might have been the worst performance this season. In the first half, we had a slow tempo, and although the pitch was lovely, it was wide open and it took almost 20 seconds to get the ball back onto the pitch, which was extremely frustrating. In the second period, we were a lot better, although not 100% at it, and we created chances. The big plus is we looked fit and strong, and we had the legs on Bristol Rovers. We looked more and more likely to score, and that control led to the two late goals.

"The game overall was a positive one. We found a way to win which is what the boys will have to do if they become professionals. We created plenty of chances, and the goals we scored were good. There was evidence once again that we tried to put into practice what we have trained, and the clean sheet, our first of the season, is a real positive, and massive for us as we want to pride ourselves on those as much as we do with scoring goals. But for us to go and have a good season, our levels will need to be higher than what we showed here.

“Individually there were some good moments, but it didn't come together as a team. I wouldn’t say anyone individually played badly, and I can’t fault the players’ attitude. The back three and Andy played really well, and smothered their most threatening centre-forward. The two strikers worked well together, and the midfield duo were neat. Alfie Clark continues to come back from injury and Harrison King has now put four very good performances in. Jake Richards, for an Under-16, was extremely positive.”

“I will be challenging the players to be better as a collective next week. But it is all part of the boys’ learning. Next Saturday, against Forest Green Rovers U18s, I will be looking for us to establish control and move the opposition around. We will have to make good decisions, and win the ball back high, because when you manage to do that, you are only one or two passes away from a shot on goal. I will be setting up challenges in training this week to make sure we are prepared for Saturday.”

Exeter City Under-18s: Andrew Sowden, Scott Simmons, Sam Joce, Jacca Cavendish, Harrison King, Alfie Clark, Gabriel Billington, Tom Dean, Jake Richards, Theo Cutler, George Spencer

Subs: Ed James, Aamir Daniels, Pedro Borges



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