Exeter City’s Under-18s have enjoyed a productive pre-season as they enter their fifth week of training ahead of their 2023/2024 competitive campaign, writes Derek Baker.

Their first week saw the players build up their ball work, before they faced Burton Albion in their first exhibition match. Despite City ending up on the wrong side of a result, U18 Lead Coach Tom Donati was left relatively satisfied with what he saw from his players.

“It was a close game,” he said. “We grew into it after the first 15 minutes by controlling the possession, while we showed a positive mindset and a bit of what we had worked on during the week. It was a shame really that some errors took something away from what was a good performance generally.”

Week two saw Exeter’s youth side carry out more work on the training pitch, while they also enjoyed a day out at Polzeath Beach for a team bonding and recovery exercise.

In the Devonians’ third week, Donati took his players to the capital to face a talented Crystal Palace Academy side, and the team were unlucky to come away with a defeat.

“The boys gave a really good account of themselves. They took on board what was asked of them, and went 1-0 up early on, but we conceded twice through individual errors.

“There were some really positive parts. Out of possession, we showed a real willingness to do things as a team, and that gave us a real platform to build from.

“Off the back of our goal, we grew into the contest. They also had spells, but we created three or four more good opportunities to score, and we managed to get into some decent areas which was pleasing to see against such a good team.”

Week four saw the ECFC Under-18s continue to build with another day away from the Cliff Hill at Bournemouth as the players were put through their paces with a session on the beach. Further training stepped things up, before a trip to Swansea left Donati once again pleased with what he saw from his players.