Young Grecians gain valuable experience while on loan at non-League clubs
As the Exeter City first team are engaged in their quest for promotion from npower League Two, the development of a number of the club's younger players continues at local grounds throughout the Westcountry.
It is hard to remember a time when so many of the Grecians' youngsters have been out on loan at one stage or another. This week, three more left the Cat & Fiddle training ground to join clubs in month-long loan deals in their latest steps to hopefully become fully-fledged professional footballers.
Jacob Wannell and Jordan Tillson have linked up with Chippenham Town, who ply their trade in the Evostik League Southern Premier Division.
The manager of the Bluebirds, Nathan Rudge, was delighted to bring the two youngsters on board.
"Jordan's played against us at right-back for Gloucester and he's a versatile player who can play there, in the centre and in the middle of midfield," Rudge said.
"Jacob was man-of-the-match for Exeter's reserves against Swansea the other day and they're raving about him down there – he's a left-back and they think that he'll be the next one to break into their first team."
Indeed, Tillson made 12 appearances earlier this season for Gloucester in Blue Square Bet North, while Wannell played twice during a loan stint at Blue Square Bet South side Dorchester Town.
Jamie Reid and Jake Gosling have also spent time on loan with Dorchester this season with the loan move doing them the world of good as they have since returned and made their debuts for the Grecians' first team.
Jacob Jagger Cane also departed this week, in a month-long loan deal, to Poole Town, while Tom Nichols is another to have enjoyed loan spells away from Exeter this season. He started at Hereford United and has just returned to Exeter after spending time with Bath City, where he made seven appearances.
Elliot Chamberlain has also linked up with the Twerton Park outfit and such was the success of his first month that the Romans have extended the deal for a second.
Whether these players go on and become regulars for Exeter City, only time will tell, but playing competitive games for the region's top non-League clubs is certainly doing no harm to their development.
They are able to play men's football at a reasonable standard, which is far better than playing the odd reserve or development game here and there.
It also sees Exeter forge strong ties and good relationships with those local clubs.
The youngsters are able to play in development games for the Grecians while spending time out on loan and a very youthful Exeter side took to the field to take on Tiverton Town on Tuesday.
While their first-team counterparts were winning 2-0 at Port Vale, a City XI won 4-1 at Ladysmead to book their place in the semi-finals of the St Luke's Devon Bowl.
Nichols got City off to a dream start with a goal in the opening minute before he doubled Exeter's lead midway through the first half.
Ollie Knowles, part of Kevin Nicholson's Under-19 side this season, netted the third on 55 minutes before Adam Faux pulled a goal back for Tivvy.
However, Reid finished the scoring to complete a comfortable win against a Tivvy side that have been beaten finalists in the last two seasons.
Nicholson said: "It was an accomplished performance from our young side. We controlled the majority of the game by retaining possession even when the players were being put under considerable pressure. By doing that, we created numerous chances and scored four fantastic goals.
"The game plan was to try and make sure we got the first goal, and to have done so within the first minute was brilliant. We played positively from the moment we kicked off.
"We knew that getting that first goal would open up the opposition, which would work in our favour. That was exactly what happened, and I'm pleased that the boys were able to execute what we discussed pre-game against an experienced adult team."
We have seen the fruits of Exeter's labour in investing in youth over the years and it is encouraging to see more youngsters than ever in and around the first-team squad.