Leasing.com Trophy: Top-tier academy sides flourish as group stages finish

Premier League West Ham losing to Exeter
Premier League academy side West Ham had no joy in their trip to Exeter

Is the decision to give top-level Category One academy sides some 'proper' match experience in the EFL's Leasing.com Trophy starting to bring some rewards?

Maybe so, as seven under-21 teams from the Premier League - Leicester City, Manchester United, Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion, Manchester City, Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers - will take their place in Saturday's second round draw for the knockout stages.

One of the top tier sides who will not be joining them are West Ham United's development squad, after Wednesday's 3-1 defeat by Exeter City.

Two goals from Joel Randall and a Nathan Tillson effort were enough to quash the Hammers youngsters, with Joe Powell's penalty in reply.

It was a win which ensured the Grecians maintained their 100% record, and handed Newport a place in the next round after their 11-goal, 7-4 thriller of a win against Cheltenham.

Chelsea's under-21s, already through, were joined by Bristol Rovers thanks to their 1-0 win at home to Swindon, which leapfrogged them above Plymouth - who are denied a spot in the second round.

Mark Little got the goal that won it for the Pirates.

Sweet Sol Music, but Shrimpers tumble out

Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell won his first game in five attempts as Southend boss

It has not been a great few weeks for Southend and their recently appointed boss Sol Campbell.

FA Cup defeat by Dover, midfielder Harry Lennon pictured celebrating with the same players that had dumped them out of the cup and a 10-match winless run all combined to make Roots Hall a glum place to be.

However, green shoots might have been witnessed on Wednesday night when former England and Arsenal skipper Campbell won his first match in charge at the fifth attempt.

Nathan Ralph, Ethan Hamilton and Tom Hopper scored the goals that secured victory for the Shrimpers, with Tommy Wood netting the consolation.

It was not enough to send Sol's side through, but Wimbledon will not be joining them either. Brighton's Under-21s and Leyton Orient have qualified for the knockout stages.

Macclesfield's on-field woes continue

What about Sol's old club Macclesfield? It has been turbulent to say the least there amid plenty of on and off-field disruption.

There was a more familiar look to the Silkmen side than the weekend FA Cup loss to Kingstonian, in which they fielded a team of academy players and loanees.

However, the result was no different as they crashed out of the competition with a 3-1 defeat at Shrewsbury.

Theo Vassell, Joe Ironside and James Harris were among the first-teamers named in the squad but despite Theo Archibold cancelling out a Louis Thompson effort, they conceded further goals from Shrewsbury duo David Edwards and Brad Walker to extend the losing run to four games.

Not even Donald Love's late dismissal could temper the home side's progress as Macc missed out.

Cod Army wallop Oldham

Fleetwood's first goal
Fleetwood's second goal
Fleetwood's third goal
Oldham goal in reply
Fleetwood's fourth goal
Fleetwood's fifth goal
Oldham goal in reply

It was not happy viewing for Oldham fans, who saw their side 3-0 down inside 15 minutes, after a five-minute treble for Fleetwood set the tone for the 5-2 thrashing that lay ahead.

The Cod Army were ruthless, with Peter Clarke, Josh Morris, Jack Sowerby and Wesley Burns scoring in the opening half, and after half-time Paddy Madden grabbed the fifth with Kyle Dempsey whacking the crossbar as they chased a sixth.

Oldham's replies came from Sunday's FA Cup hero Jonny Smith and Desire Segbe Azankpo.

Fleetwood progress, at the expense of the Latics, to Saturday's draw.

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