A spirited performance from the young Robins
Exeter City's Liam McAlinden scores twice to secure a win for an experienced Exeter side over a young Cheltenham team in the Central League.
It was a fast paced start to the game with Exeter pressing well as McAlinden got into space and opened the scoring in the first five minutes of the game, smashing his shot into the top corner from a tight angle.
Exeter pressed Cheltenham's defence well after their early goal and they kept the ball with ease. They nearly doubled their lead when hitting the Robins on the break but Archie Brennan was there to block and deny a good chance for the visitors.
Cheltenham's first corner after 20 minutes nearly created the equaliser as a fantastic corner found the head of Jamie Kilkenny who rose high to head the ball, but it flew over the bar.
More great passing from Exeter gave them another opportunity as a lofted through ball found Alex Byrne who was denied by a fantastic save from Ross Grimshaw who somehow managed to top the ball onto the bar.
Exeter were the dominant side going into the break, but still only lead 1-0.
Despite a fast start from the visitors, it was Cheltenham who scored the first goal of the second half. High quality passing from Cheltenham managed to break down the Exeter defence as Brennan played in George Lloyd who was able to slot home and make it 1-1.
Exeter almost restored their lead straight away as a deflected shot was brilliantly kept out by Lewis Clayton, a half-time substitute, before Jamie Kilkenny got back to clear it off the line.
They did however manage to regain the lead in the 66th minute as Matt Jay produced a fine solo run, teeing up McAlinden to score his and Exeter's second of the game.
Eight minutes later they were 3-1 up and it was Jay who got the third, smashing home on the rebound after Clayton had done well to keep the first effort out.
Cheltenham kept fighting and in the 86th minute pulled one back as a corner from Lee Llewelyn sailed into the Exeter box and Ryan Davis was able to get up high and head it home to make it 3-2. Cheltenham kept their spirit but could not find one last chance to try and snatch a point.
All in all it was a promising performance from an under-18 side who were taking on an opposing side consisting of first team players.
Watch Academy Manager Antoine Thompson and U18s Coach Pete Haynes reflecting on the encouraging performance, on Robins TV here:
Ross Grimshaw (Lewis Clayton, 46), Jamie Kilkenny, Matt Bower, Ollie Hunt, Owen Williams (Dom Thompson, 62), James Hancocks (Ryan Davis, 75), Josh Thomas, Archie Brennan, Lee Llewelyn, George Lloyd, Rhys Sarson (Josh Bennai, 75)