Grimes earns glowing reviews as he shines on Exeter City debut
Matt Grimes could not have had a better debut, after starring for Exeter City in their 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, although he did have some regret that he did not cap it with a goal!
The 18-year-old first-year professional was handed his first start for the Grecians due to injuries to Scot Bennett and Liam Sercombe and the hugely gifted playmaker sparkled as the Grecians turned in one of their best performances on home soil for some time.
In the first half especially, Grimes dictated Exeter’s play alongside the returning Matt Oakley as two John O’Flynn goals saw City claim a deserved League Two win against the Dons.
Asked if his debut could have gone any better, Grimes said: “I would like to have scored a goal and we had the free-kick late on that I wanted to take, but we had a squabble about it and I got pushed to one side!
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“It’s always nice to make your debut and I think I did all right with it being my first 90 minutes. It was a lot harder than I have been used to, but it was great to play the full 90 minutes and get a result for the team.
“The fans were incredible and nothing like anything I have ever experienced before. It was such a good feeling.
“I have watched Exeter games for years thinking one day I would like to play on that pitch in front of a big crowd and today it happened.”
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale revealed that he had asked Steve Perryman to call Grimes’ parents on Saturday morning to let them know their son would be playing that afternoon, and they were present to witness one of the most memorable performances from a Grecians’ debutant.
Grimes had far less time to prepare. He said “I found out at about 2pm that I would be playing. Tis called me into his office and said: ‘Look, you’ve been training well, we are going to start you in this game.’ From that point, I was buzzing.
“Obviously, I was a little bit nervous, but I’m just thankful that it went well.
“In some ways, it was nice to find out an hour before because it meant I could sleep the night before, so I wasn’t up half the night thinking about starting and stuff. That can affect you a bit, but I don’t mind either way, really, I was just happy to play.”
It was no more than Grimes deserved after catching the eye throughout Exeter’s pre-season fixtures and the young midfielder has ambitions to emulate the likes of Dean Moxey, who have graduated from the youth ranks at City and now ply their trade in the Premier League.
“I’ve been really pleased with the way I have played and trained in pre-season. I knew at some point this season I would get a chance and I am just really thankful to Tis and Robbo [Rob Edwards] and the rest for giving me that chance. I just hope to keep doing well,” he said.
“Hopefully I can follow in the footsteps of people like Dean Moxey who is playing in the Premier League now – he is going to be a tough act to follow, but, hopefully, I will get there one day.”