Delighted coach Alan Connell said his AFC Bournemouth under-18s “delivered everything I wanted” during their first EFL Youth Alliance game of 2022.
Finely-taken goals either side of half-time from Daniel Adu-Adjei and Lewis Brown earned the Cherries a 2-0 win over Exeter City at Canford Arena on Saturday.
Victory saw Connell’s team open a three-point lead over the Grecians at the top of the table, an excellent all-round team performance coming ahead of their eagerly-awaited FA Youth Cup fourth-round tie against QPR at Vitality Stadium on Wednesday (7pm).
Connell told afcb.co.uk: “Going into the game, we knew it would be an important one for us.
“It was our first game after Christmas and, with the FA Youth Cup at home to QPR on Wednesday, we wanted to go into that in a really positive frame of mind.
“The performance was dominant from start to finish and I thought the players delivered everything I wanted.
“Although we probably didn’t create as many clear-cut chances as I would have liked, when we got our opportunities, we took them extremely well and we used the ball well.
“What pleased me as much as anything was our hunger to win back the ball and how we sustained attacks.
“That was due to our backline organising what was happening in front of them and I was delighted with the clean sheet and the fact we restricted a very good Exeter side to so few chances.”
Ferdinand Okoh, who was impressive throughout, went close to drawing first blood when he fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box before Adu-Adjei opened the scoring in the 30th minute.
A neat exchange of passes between Okoh and Brown created the opening, Adu-Adjei beating his marker before slotting into the bottom corner for his tenth goal of the season.
Noa Boutin and Owen Bevan both went close to doubling the Cherries’ lead before Brown made it 2-0 with a stunning strike 16 minutes from time.
The Bournemouth-raised frontman applied an acrobatic finish to Ben Winterburn’s cross, Brown capping a fine individual display with a sublime volley.
An assured display from goalkeeper Ollie Camis, coupled with a solid defensive effort, ensured the visitors rarely troubled the Cherries goal.
Connell’s team were forced to play the last ten minutes with ten men after Owen Palmer, their final substitute, came off worse in a challenge and had to leave the pitch.
AFC Bournemouth: Camis, Tonks, Boutin (Johnson, 70), Okoh, Kinsey-Wellings (Palmer, 75), Bevan, Dacosta Gonzalez (Dawes, h/t), Winterburn (Williams, 75), Adu-Adjei, Harris, Brown.
Unused sub: Crisp (g/k).
Click through the arrows above to see a gallery of pictures from the game.
Click here for ticket information for the FA Youth Cup tie against QPR.