Cambridge United’s development side were knocked out of the Premier League Cup at the final round of qualifying, with Exeter City taking a 0-2 win away from the Abbey Stadium.
Alex Fisher scored the key goal of the game in the first half with Ben Seymour completing the result in the dying embers, as Barry Corr’s side saw their route to the group stage of the competition halted despite a positive display for long periods.
The U’s could have been a goal up inside 30 seconds but Harvey Knibbs got underneath Jordan Norville-Williams’ cross and lifted his header from close range over the bar. Callum Burton was called into action on seven minutes to get a strong hand to a drilled effort at hiss near post.
Harry Kite dragged a shot wide of the U’s target midway through the first half, in what was progressing into an evenly matched contest.
However, the opening goal went to the visitors on 28 minutes with the U’s hit on a counter attack, in which Callum Burton was forced to commit himself but the ball was flicked beyond the United keeper and into the path of Alex Fisher who calmly side-footed into the net from six yards.
Burton denied Josh Rey from making it two before the break, tipping over his header with a full stretch save. Whilst at the other end Jonny Maxted was equal to Josh Gray’s drilled header from a Tom Knowles set piece in first half stoppage time.
United had the ball in the back of the Grecians net shortly before the hour mark, with Louis John beating Maxted to an excellent free kick by Norville-Williams, but the flag was raised for offside and the centre’s back effort was chalked off.
Tom Knowles was denied a penalty claim when he hit the deck under contact from an Exeter defender, as the U’s dominated large spells of the second period.
Knibbs failed covert with his head for a second occasion when the striker found himself unmarked to meet a whipped delivery off the right by Andrew Dallas, in perhaps United’s best chance of the match.
And as the U’s pushed men forward in search of a late leveller, the Grecians caught them out with Ben Seymour tucking away a tidy finish to complete 0-2 score line with the final kick of the game.
Cambridge United Development Coach, Barry Corr commented: “We are obviously disappointed to lose but I said to the lads in there (the dressing room), there’s a way of winning a game and a way of losing. I thought that’s what we did, in the first half it was evenly contested and whilst they maybe had the upper hand slightly we probably had the best chance.
“In the second half I thought we were brilliant and really had Exeter pinned back to create the chances. Unfortunately with men pushing forward they scored with the last kick of the game. But that’s how you lose a game of football, we properly went at them and on another day I think we win that game.
“Before the game the Manager has first team players involved because they need the minutes and it’s a mix with the youth team and some of the young pros. The performance has to go down to the attitude and endeavour of the lads because we didn’t have a great deal of time to work with them as a team. We had a day yesterday where we worked a bit of shape and a few set pieces.
“Their principles towards winning first contacts, winning second balls, putting crosses in the box and being on the front foot, they did that really well.”
Cambridge United Development XI: Burton, Knowles, John, Dickens, Gray (Battersby, 80 mins), Norville-Williams, Simper, Worman (Bennett, 80 mins), Rider, Dallas, Knibbs
Exeter City: Maxted, Richardson, Dyer, Dean, Hartridge, Tillson, Kite, Randall, Fisher (Simpson, 76 mins), Seymour, Rey