Exeter City put an end to a disappointing run of results with a 2-0 win over visitors AFC Wimbledon.
Veteran Jamie Cureton opened the scoring for City with a composed finish just after the half-hour mark, and John O’Flynn sealed the victory with a low drive 20 minutes from time.
AFC Wimbledon rallied in the second half but City’s dominance was reflected in the result.
City manager Paul Tisdale made just a single change to the starting XI after the weekend’s FA Cup tie against Bury. Amankwaah took a seat on the bench with Steve Tully slotting in at right-back, while John O’Flynn made his first start since the visit of Chesterfield.
AFC Wimbledon handed debuts to two of their new loan signings, with Jonathan Meades and Jake Reeves joining in the week from Bournemouth and Brentford respectively.
O’Flynn looked to justify his start early doors by sneaking in round the back from an early throw-in, but the angle was narrow and Seb Brown was alert to gather between the sticks.
In a high-tempo opening, the Dons had their own opportunity moments later as the ball broke to Rashid Yussuf, but his left-footed effort curled wildly over the bar from 25 yards.
O’Flynn was looking lively again before the match was even five minutes old. He reacted instantly to Will Antwi’s slip to set up a break, the Dons’ defence had regrouped in time to take the sting out of Jamie Cureton’s shot after he’d received from the Irishman for Brown to collect calmly.
Tully, back in defence, was showing why he’d been placed in an advanced position in recent weeks. After linking well with Liam Sercombe on the right-hand touchline, he swung a ball over to Alan Gow who nodded back to Cureton, but the striker’s acrobatic effort cleared the bar.
The central defensive partnership of Antwi and Yado Mambo were struggling to cope with the presence of O’Flynn, and the home fans were incensed when the duo appeared to bundle him to the ground but the officials weren’t interested in the appeal.
But the goal the Grecians craved finally came in the 32nd minute owing to a beautifully weighted ball by Gow. After receiving the ball from Craig Woodman, the Scotsman bisected the Dons’ defence to lay in Cureton, who struck across goal into the bottom corner.
The visitors waited until first-half stoppage-time to muster their first goal-bound effort. After some interplay on the left flank, the ball broke to Jack Midson whose shot was blocked, and Osano’s follow-up was deflected over the crossbar.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 AFC Wimbledon 0
Wimbledon re-emerged from the tunnel very early ahead of the second half, and looked lively straight from the kick-off. Yussuf looked to slide on Bryon Harrison but the striker was crowded out before he could get the ball out of his feet.
They had another opportunity 10 minutes later when Midson escaped down his left flank, and his cut-back found its way to Reeves on the edge of the box. However the midfielder’s strike was closed down by Pat Baldwin and deflected onto the roof of the net.
The Dons were enjoying a spell of possession and territory that had evaded them in the first half, and a neat one-two nearly left Artur Krysiak exposed, but Woodman got across to cover and hook the ball clear.
But the Grecians struck again soon after to give a much-needed cushion. A ball lofted forward caused chaos in Dons’ defensive ranks and Bennett rose to head backwards into the path of O’Flynn, who swept home decisively.
The visitors weren’t ready to throw in the towel though and attacked down the left through Midson. The midfielder jinked outside but his low cross was stabbed out and away for a corner.
Then Wimbledon substitute Stacy Long cut inside from the same flank but curled a right-footed effort narrowly wide of Krysiak’s far post.
But the Grecians held out for a well-merited win after a dominant performance.
Full-time: Exeter City 2 AFC Wimbledon 0
Exeter City: Krysiak; Tully, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Sercombe, Oakley, Gow (Keohane 73), Bennett (Doherty 79); Cureton (90), O’Flynn.
Subs (not used): Evans, Amankwaah, Reid, Moore-Taylor.
Goals: Cureton (32), O’Flynn (71).
AFC Wimbledon: Brown; Osano, Antwi, Mambo, Meades; Francomb (Moore 75), Gregory, Reeves (Jolley 75), Yussuf (Long 59); Harrison, Midson.
Subs (not used): Jaimez-Ruiz, Cummings, Long, Fenlon.
Attendance: 3249 (199 away).
Referee: S. Martin