Exeter City ground out a 3-2 win on a cold Tuesday night of Checkatrade Trophy action against a Chelsea U23 side that threatened a late comeback.
The game started incredibly well for the hosts. Within two minutes, a cross from Liam McAlinden’s found the head of Ollie Watkins near the six yard box, whose header dutifully found the top corner of the net to give the Grecians an early advantage.
Exeter continued to pile the pressure on, and were rewarded with a second goal 23 minutes later. After a quick one-two with Reuben Reid on the edge of the penalty area, David Wheeler cut inside and launched a super strike that beat the goalkeeper easily.
The hosts dominated for the remainder of the first half, and at the break the scoreline remained a comfortable 2-0.
Exeter came out attacking the Big Bank in the second half, and again came out of the gates quickly with a goal. Wheeler played a ball across the box, and McAlinden found himself on the end of it for an easy tap in to extend Exeter’s lead to three.
Unfortunately, the one-way traffic could not continue. Chelsea slowly fought their way back into the game, and found a breakthrough with Ike Ugbo smashing one from the penalty arc into the top corner with 18 minutes remaining.
Chelsea’s youth kept up the pressure, and at the very end it was intensified by an injury that forced the experienced Matt Oakley off. With no substitutions remaining, the Grecians were forced to finish the match with ten men.
Panic would set in again soon. Chelsea’s attacks continued to keep Exeter under pressure, and in the 94th minute Ugbo found the net for a second time. As the game reached its dying moments, Christy Pym was forced into a spectacular save that would prove decisive, holding on to the three points for the Grecians.
This match puts Exeter in a great position to progress further, as a win against Swindon in their remaining match will guarantee their advancement to the knockout stages. The match against Swindon will take place against on Tuesday 8 November at St James Park.
Exeter City 3-2 Chelsea U21
Exeter: Watkins, Wheeler, McAlinden. Chelsea: Ugbo (2)