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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
10:38 20th February 2011

Charlton Athletic 1 Exeter City 3

A committed and on-form City recorded arguably their most impressive away victory since returning to League One infront of a near 25,000 crowd at The Valley. First half substitute Liam Sercombe broke the deadlock shortly after the hour mark with a low-shot and celebrated infront of his adoring public and the 1021 fans had a great view of John O'Flynn's strike 13 minutes later. Ryan Harley's 84th minute spot kick then gave the away side a three goal cushion after O'Flynn was bought down by goalkeeper Rob Elliott. Pantomime villain Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a late consolation but the former Argyle man but City played out the dying minutes to clinch a famous win. Paul Tisdale took the 'if its not broken don't fix it' approach on the back of an workman-like 2-0 victory at Meadow Lane last weekend and named the same starting line-up. Ben Watson, fresh from his stunning goal for Bath City last week, travelled with the squad but wasn't named on the City bench while Ben Hamer sported the pink kit for the first half, made famous by Andy Marriott. The massive crowd at The Valley were treated to a hugely dramatic build-up to kick off with an opera singer and plenty of rousing anthems but there was little to sing about in the opening exchanges bar Jamie Cureton's optimistic run and shot that was straight at Rob Elliott in the Charlton goal. Richard Duffy lasted just 11 minutes before heading off with a knock to his side but not before he made a stunning goal-line clearance to keep out Liverpool loanee Nathan Eccleston. Duffy had already signalled to the bench and while Sercombe put on his shinpads the Welshman hacked Eccleston's goalbound effort off the line before coming off. Sercombe's introduction saw City switch to a 4-4-2 formation with almost a diamond in the middle of the park with Sercs and Dunne in the middle, Noble keeping the game ticking over behind them and Harley pushed further forward. The new-look Grecians were matching Chris Powell's troops with Cureton, Scott Golbourne and Noble all having sniffs of goal during the opening half an hour. Then came the best chance of the first half on 32 minutes, Eccleston fired in a low shot from the left-hand side of the box which was superbly saved by the feet of Hamer. Then Golbourne's crucial back-post header knocked the ball out of the path of Wright-Phillips who was waiting to pounce. Sercombe then fired over the bar before Wright-Phillips was booked by Steve Tanner by dissent, much to the delight of the travelling supporters behind the goal. So a first half very similar to last week, City were building a performance and once again put in a solid opening 45. They saw plenty of the ball during the start of the second half before the game suddenly sparked into life on the hour mark. Wright-Phillips spun before firing a shot right at Hamer before Harley's ambitious effort flew just wide at the other end. Johnnie Jackson's dangerous drive arrowed into the advertising hoarding before Polish striker Pawel Abbot's stunning right-footed effort crashed off the crossbar. A minute later Dunne's shot was palmed away by Elliott. You could sense a goal coming for either side as both sides began to move up the gears and it was Sercombe who got it. Harley teed up the City youth product who lashed a low right-footed effort through Elliott from the right-hand side of the box before celebrating with the delighted away fans. Only the fingertips of Elliott stopped Harley from netting a second for the Grecians four minutes later. City's number seven let rip with a low drive from the left-hand side of the box which was only kept out of the bottom corner thanks to the fingertips of Elliott. This was Tisdale's Exeter at their best with fluid passing moves taking places all over the pitch and it was no surprise that they grabbed the second goal on 77 minutes. A drilled ball forward was headed back towards Elliott by former Ireland international Gary Doherty but it didn't have enough power and his fellow countryman O'Flynn was onto it like a flash, rounding the keeper before stroking the ball into the empty net from the angle. Many of the Charlton fans leaving The Valley at the final whistle were keen to pin the loss on Elliott but for the second he certainly wasn't helped by Doherty's header. Charlton were always going to have their chances and two came in quick succession, first Hamer kept the ball out following a goal-mouth scramble then he saved well with his legs to deny Wright-Phillips. City then made it three on 84 minutes after Elliott flew off his line and hauled down O'Flynn in the left-hand corner of the box. Charlton's shot-stopper was far less mobile as he watched Harley's cool penalty fly into his right-hand corner. Hamer then made another crucial stop before Wright-Phillips close-range consolation gave the home side a glimmer of hope. Tisdale sent Bertie and Logan on during the dying minutes and Powell's side couldn't carve out a genuine chance to set up a frightening finale. And so the delighted players and fans were able to reflect on a fantastic three points. Wasn't that the best £5 you've ever spent?!
    Data provided by Press Association