Exeter maintained their unbeaten start to the BUCS season with a comprehensive 7-3 victory over Cardiff Met. Despite conceding first, the 1s eased past their Welsh opponents as quality ultimately prevailed, Matt Richards scoring a well deserved hat trick.
A cagey opening saw both sides squander good chances. Alex Robey chose to square the ball instead of shooting, before a Cardiff Met counter attack saw a scintillating solo effort give the visitors an early lead. Exeter were soon level, however. A neat throughball by Captain Ed Fleet was tapped in by Richards at the near post to level the scores with only six minutes on the clock.
With only a minute gone, Sharples intercepted before hammering
high into the goal
The next clear opening fell the way of Cardiff Met, but a scrappy penalty corner routine allowed the hosts to clear. With the game ebbing and flowing without much concentrated possession or territory for either side, a poor pass in midfield allowed Exeter to break again, Noah Sharples playing a great ball that narrowly evaded the forwards in front of the goalmouth.
By fifteen minutes Exeter’s deence had settled, cutting out any attempted through balls and trying to incite counter attacks. The home side were on top, but Cardiff were equally swift to quash any openings. A poorly cleared penalty corner on the stroke of 25 minutes allowed Richards to sweep home for his second after a fine initial save by the visiting keeper.
The visitors were keen to force an equaliser quickly, but Jack Simmons made a crucial tackle as the opposition ran clear. Not long afterwards, Nick Chittock won the ball in midfield and used his pace to lay the ball off to Sharples, who won a penalty corner off the legs of a Cardiff Met defender. Although the resulting chance was saved, it was a reflection of Exeter’s growing dominance. Taking only a narrow 2-1 lead into the interval, however, the game was far from over.
Exeter started the second half quickly, pressing Cardiff Met and forcing them into errors. With only a minute gone, Sharples intercepted before hammering high into the goal – daylight finally emerging between the two teams. With Exeter the only team looking like scoring, Alex Robey ran onto a well-weighted ball and slotted home to extend Exeter’s advantage to 4-1.
Exeter were looking much more comfortable on the ball, confidence seeping into their play as they attempted more adventurous passes. Sharples converted his second goal, although it could have been a host of other players as they queued up in front of the Cardiff goal.
A third penalty corner for Cardiff Met finally saw a breakthrough. Jack Bannister’s initial save followed in, to make the score 5-2 in Exeter’s favour.
Regular fouls were starting to creep in as the game opened up. A brilliant through ball by Cardiff was met by a diving forward but he was unable to direct it over the head of the on rushing Bannister. Matt Richards completed his fine hat trick soon afterwards, dummying before rounding the keeper and slotting home.
With the game almost secured, Exeter’s concentration began to slip. Defender Alex Manton-Jones conceded a penalty corner which Cardiff Met executed and reduced the deficit.
The last ten minutes saw some excellent reflex keeping, stopping Exeter from adding a seventh. A fantastic lofted through ball from Manton-Jones sent Albert Thornton through, but his ball into the middle couldn’t be converted.
Tom Watson added his name to the list of scorers
With the game almost at a close, another foray forward saw Man of the Match, Tom Watson add his name to the growing list of scorers, executing well into the top right hand corner.
As the game was brought to a close, Captain Ed Fleet was complimentary of his team: “It’s fantastic to see the lads scoring so many goals, and hopefully we can push on and stamp our authority on the league.” They head to Bristol next week as they look to put daylight between themselves and second-placed Bath.
Naturally, the Captain was keen to see similar scorelines in the future, urging his side to continue to work hard. Fleet was also eager to recognise the impact of Man of the Match, Tom Watson: “He has grown hugely in confidence as the year as progressed and is slowly showing signs of being one of the most consistent performers” he said.