Two superb goals from substitute Alan Gow earned the Grecians a 2-1 win against York City at St James Park.
The Scotsman had been introduced midway through the first half when John O’Flynn
had to be withdrawn with an injury.
With his first touch of the ball – merely 20 seconds after being subbed on – the Scotsman found the bottom corner of the net. It was a leveller, cancelling out an earlier strike on the rebound by Ryan Jarvis.
And he struck again late with a great drilled left-footed effort from outside the area to put City in front – and it ended two goals to one despite chances at either end.
Like in the previous home game against AFC Wimbledon, Matt Oakley
and Matt Grimes started together once again in central midfield for the clash against York City, while Liam Sercombe
– returning from injury – took a seat on the bench.
began the game at right-back, while he was joined in defence by Pat Baldwin
who returned to the squad following the birth of his son Finnley last weekend.
For York, George Taft – on loan from Leicester – came straight into the starting XI for a first start just two days after his move. Fellow loanee Ryan Brobbel, who joined from Middlesbrough on Friday, was named on the bench.
The opening exchanges didn’t produce much flowing football, and early offside decisions against O’Flynn and Michael Coulson at either end of the field were symptomatic of the two sides cancelling each other out.
City had a bit of a scare when a Lanre Oyebanjo cross was taken at the second attempt by Artur Krysiak
– but the initial mishandle had tempted into Ashley Chambers into making a challenge which left both ‘keeper and winger on the deck. Both picked themselves up eventually however.
But it wasn’t long until the Minstermen took the lead against the hosts. It was a quick break – which included wriggling clear from a few tackles – that sent Chambers careering down the left wing. Craig Clay’s shot was saved brilliantly by Krysiak after the winger’s cut-back, but Jarvis mopped up and slotted in.
It looked like it was going from bad to worse for City when O’Flynn, who scored twice on his last appearance at the Park, had to limp off midway through the first half with what appeared to be an ankle complaint.
As things transpired, however, it led to a stroke of good fortune for the Grecians. O’Flynn’s replacement, Gow, was released instantly beyond a staggered back line which was never in danger of holding an offside trap – and with his first touch, slotted the ball beyond Michael Ingham and into the bottom corner.
Following that frantic few minutes, the game became a little bogged down in midfield once again.
Chambers had been causing havoc on the left wing during the majority of the first half, but nearly created a second goal when he switched flanks with Michael Coulson. The former England youth international slotted a ball in for Coulson, who was cutting in from the left, but he missed by some distance at Krysiak’s near post with plenty to aim at.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 York City 1
The City rearguard underwent something of a reshuffle at the interval, with Scot Bennett
being introduced in place of Moore-Taylor and slotted in at centre-half, with Baldwin moving to right-back.
And, kicking towards the Big Bank, Exeter looked the brighter of the two teams in the first ten minutes after the interval. The best chance came and went as a low cross by David Wheeler evaded the finishing touch by Sam Parkin and was cleared away.
But around the hour mark, the Minstermen started to make things a little twitchy for the home crowd by retaining possession well themselves. Something of a defensive mix-up in defence for City went unpunished, as bodies rushed back to force a wayward pass at the crucial time for the visitors.
Wheeler was the final player to be subbed off for City with about half an hour to go, with Sercombe being the man to replace him. It meant for a different shape for City, as Gow took up the wide-right berth with Sercombe supporting the attack from deep and central.
It wasn’t too long before Gow had drifted a beautiful ball into the path of the onrushing Sercombe, who couldn’t get a strong enough touch on it to control and Ingham collected.
However it wasn’t long before the Scotsman had produced a bit of genius to put the Grecians ahead for the first time in the game. With the ball pinging about in the final third, Gow controlled at waist-height, wriggled away from Chambers on the right, cut inside with a shimmy and drilled a strike beyond Ingham at his near post.
It served to liberate the Grecians and suddenly, with the crowd bouncing again, City were playing some delicate triangles around the York City box. Gow had a few opportunities to complete a hat-trick from the right flank but hit shots over the bar and into the side-netting in succession.
While the third goal was elusive, however, the result wasn’t comfortable for City and Coulson wasted a golden opportunity to draw the scores back level. A long throw by Lanre Oyebanjo slipped off a head and presented a chance to smash in from inside the six-yard box but Krysiak saved low when it looked unmissable.
Gow nearly turned provider when linking up with Parkin – he slipped in the striker who got goalside of his marker, but Parkin dragged the shot a matter of inches beyond the far post with his right boot.
Despite chances at either end in the closing stages, the Grecians were able to hold onto the lead to maintain the 100 per cent home record in League 2.
Full-time: Exeter City 2 York City 1
Exeter City: Krysiak; Moore-Taylor (Bennett 46), Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Wheeler (Sercombe 63), Oakley, Grimes, Davies; Parkin, O’Flynn (Gow 22).
Subs: Pym, Doherty, Reid, Gosling.
Goal: Gow (23, 72).
York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, Davies, Smith, Coulson (Fyfield 89), Clay, Chambers (Brobbel 74), Jarvis, Montrose (Chamberlain 82), Platt, Taft.
Subs: Kettings, Parslow, Allan, Dickinson.
Goal: Jarvis (18).
Attendance: 3,448 (147 away)