Cherries sink Grecians to go six points clear
Coach Alan Connell heaped praise on his AFC Bournemouth under-18s after an improved second-half showing had earned them a fifth successive win in the EFL Youth Alliance today.
Goals from Luke Pardoe, Euan Pollock and Luke Gray saw the Cherries run out 3-1 victors over Exeter City at Canford Arena, a result which took them six points clear at the top of the table.
Connell’s young guns were rewarded for their patience against a well-organised Grecians team, with all three of their goals coming after they had withstood some first-half pressure from the visitors.
“I thought Exeter were really good, especially in the first half,” said Connell, speaking to afcb.co.uk.
“They pressed us well and made it difficult for us to play out. They had a threat going forward and we had to ride a bit of a storm in the first half.
“A couple of good blocks meant we went in at half-time with a clean sheet and that was credit to the guys at the back. Sometimes when things don’t go your way, you need to show that desire and willingness to block shots and I felt we did that.
“On the ball, we were a little loose in the first half which can happen with the way we play.
“We spoke about certain things at half-time and credit to the players because I thought they implemented them really well in the second half.
“We switched the ball better and got our wide-play combinations going which helped.
“Our decision making and final pass were a lot better in the second half, as was our playing out under an intense press from Exeter.
“Our quality was much better and credit to the players for their composure and willingness to find their way out of tight situations.
“We scored three lovely team goals. I was delighted with the second half and there was lots to learn from the first half so it was a perfect day from a development point of view.”
Cherries goalkeeper Joe Besant made a smart save to deny Lewis Wilson inside the opening 90 seconds with Jack Veale lifting the loose ball over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Brooklyn Genesini clipped the crossbar with a free-kick from a tight angle before Brandon Channell’s saving tackle prevented Wilson from drawing first blood after he had seized on a loose pass.
Kharvan Williams saw his speculative effort well saved by Exeter goalkeeper Jack Arthur before Wilson headed over when well placed.
As the first half drew to a close, two long-range efforts from Gray, one deflected, both flashed past the post before Pollock volleyed wide.
Pardoe opened the scoring eight minutes into the second half when his emphatic finish gave Arthur no chance after Pollock had neatly backheeled Ben Greenwood’s cross into his path.
The Cherries quickly doubled their lead when Pollock netted at a congested near post, the frontman turning home James Oliver’s driven, low cross.
And although Louis Morrison halved the arrears midway through the second half, Gray completed the scoring nine minutes from time when he netted from the edge of the box after his initial effort had been saved.
Cherries: Besant, Genesini (Roberts, 59), Greenwood, Wadham, Channell, Bertrand, Pardoe, Gray, Pollock (Burgess, 85), Williams (Murray, 82), Oliver (Adams, 79). Unused sub: Seddon.