Exeter City conceded 3 second-half goals at Cheltenham to leave Paul Tisdale’s side without a win in 8 games. A spectacular strike by on-loan forward Lawson D’Ath gave the home side the lead after his shot found the net from 25 yards. Cheltenham defender Keith Lowe, not known for his goal scoring exploits grabbed a second-half brace.
The first came from a near-post cross, Lowe lost his marker and glanced his header past Artur Krysiak at his near post. Late-on another cross caused problems in the City defence, this time from a corner. A far-post corner found Cheltenham defender Steve Elliott who headed back across goal to Lowe who had the easy job of tapping the ball over the line. Despite City’s best efforts they couldn’t get past a resilient Cheltenham defence.
Jamie Cureton, John O’Flynn and Alan Gow all went close but the Grecians just couldn’t convert their chances. This was a match of missed opportunities for Paul Tisdale’s men and the 3-0 score didn’t reflect City’s performance.
Exeter City named an unchanged side against Cheltenham Town. As with Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Dagenham and Redbridge injury-doubt Gow had to make do with a place amongst the substitutes. City Manager Tisdale stuck with the 4-5-1 formation that saw top goalscorer Jamie Cureton play in the lone-striking role. Former Southampton midfielder Matt Oakley was joined in midfield by Jimmy Keohane and Liam Sercombe.
In the wide positions former Forest wide-man Aaron Davies operated from the left and Steve Tully on the right. Despite signing a new contract last week teenage full-back Jordan Moore Taylor had to settle for a place on the bench, with Craig Woodman retaining his place at left-back. Captain Danny Coles who also signed a new contract this week partnered Scott Bennett at the heart of the Grecians defence.
Former Cheltenham Town player Kevin Amankwaah remained at right-back and Krysiak retained his place in goal despite giving away a penalty away to Dagenham and Redbridge. Cheltenham Town’s new loan signing D’Ath went straight into the starting line-up after joining from Reading on a one-month contract.
Cheltenham Town started the brighter of the two teams. An in-swinging corner found Steve Elliott, the defenders header was hard and low but an instinctive reaction save by Krysiak kept Cheltenham out.
In the 5th minute Cheltenham Town‘s Jermaine McGlashan’s inviting cross was met by goalkeeper Krysiak who confidently punched the ball clear to start a City counter-attack.
Exeter City’s first chance of the match came after clever build-up play involving Keohane, Cureton and Davies. The move allowed Keohane to unleash a fierce drive toward goal. Goalkeeper Scott Brown who was making his 200th appearance for the home club did well to tip the dipping ball over the bar for a corner.
On the 12 minute Amankwaah was booked for a high challenge on midfielder Sam Deering. The resulting free-kick landed the Grecians under pressure. Cheltenham won a corner but Amankwaah made amends for his earlier foul by powerfully heading the ball clear.
Midfielder Keohane was at the centre of another City counter-attack, a committed run saw the City player play a one-two with Davies allowing the Welsh winger to get his strike away from 20 yards, his shot dragged yards wide of Brown’s post.
City began to get some joy down the left on the half-hour mark. Good attacking play by Davies allowed Woodman to come around the outside on the overlap. The left-back whipped in a cross only for McGlashan to block the ball with his arm. The resulting free-kick by Davies almost took Cheltenham Town goalkeeper Brown by surprise as the ball almost found the top corner.
With half an hour on the clock winger Davies was replaced by striker O’Flynn.
City began to have a scrappy spell towards the end of the first-half, Woodman and Coles both giving the ball away cheaply which put City under unwanted pressure.
On the 38th minute O’Fylnn’s shot was deflected up in the air towards Coles. The captain flicked the ball towards the goal but former City player Billy Jones cleared off the line. Jones’ clearance only found its way to Tully who took the ball with his right and shot with his unflavoured left, his powerful strike whistled wide of the post.
Cheltenham Town striker Kaid Mohamed tried the spectacular just before half-time. McGlashan’s well worked cross saw the Cheltenham player overhead-kick the ball high over the bar.
The half-time whistle blew with the score an entertaining 0-0.
Polish keeper Krysiak had to be alert straight after the restart, a searching ball found its way through to D’Ath who tried to head past the City Keeper. Krysiak judged it well before collecting the floating header.
Amankwaah made a surging run down the right overlapping Tully. Tully then played in the right-back who then put in a low cross, the ball came to nothing but City’s intent was obvious.
On the 52nd minute Krysiak kept the score level. A free-kick by Jones found an unmarked Lowe whose attacking header was superbly saved by the City shot stopper.
Moments later City fell behind to a clever piece of skill by debutant D’Ath, the on-loan Reading player flicked the ball through his legs into the path of Darryl Duffy who played the ball instantly back to D’Ath who then charged in on goal before firing the ball past Krysiak.
Almost instantaneously after the game was restarted Cureton found himself through on goal, the top goalscorer shot but goalkeeper Brown parried the ball over for a corner.
On the 63rd minute City fell 2 goals behind after Cheltenham defender Lowe flicked in a header at the near post. Poor marking and a lack of following the marker left the City defence in all kinds of confusion.
Manager Paul Tisdale introduced attacking-midfielder Gow with 25 minutes left to play to try and get the Grecians back in the game.
City could have pulled a goal back when O’Flynn’s far post header was cleared off the line by a Cheltenham defender.
With 20 minutes left substitute Gow produced a piece of sublime skill, taking on 3 Cheltenham players which gave him space to find O’Flynn but the through ball lacked the pace it needed and goalscorer Lowe was there to intercept.
Former City player Jones almost scored against his former club when his in-swinging free-kick from the right hit the side netting.
On the 80th minute and City desperately in need of goal to get back into the game striker Gow was again the centre of City’s attacking play. This time the former Rangers player beat his man and pulled the ball back into the path of Keohane who fired his shot well over the bar from 18 yards.
On the 86th minute Cheltenham right-back scored his second of the game. Poor defending from a corner allowed Steve Elliott to head the ball back across the goal from the far post. An unmarked Lowe was there at the front post to tap the ball in from close range.
Another free header allowed substitute Jeff Goulding the chance to add a fourth late-on but City had the post to thank this time.
The match finished 3-0 much to the disappointment of the 908 travelling Grecians. City’s 908 travelling supporters is the most Cheltenham’s Abbey Business Stadium has hosted this season. Next up for City is a familiar FA Cup first round trip to Bury.