Exeter City turned a terrific performance into three points on their longest away day of the season, triumphing 3-1 away to Carlisle United.
The Grecians took the lead initially through Ryan Harley
, netting his first since returning to the club, shortly after Alex Nicholls
’ effort had bounced back off the bar.
But the hosts were level before the break when speedster David Amoo worked space to dink in a cross from the right, allowing Steven Rigg to touch in an equaliser from six yards.
However a second for Harley before the hour-mark – powering in from distance – left Carlisle with work to do, and they were caught cold on the counter-attack in stoppage-time as Liam Sercombe
sealed the win for the visitors at Brunton Park.
Manager Paul Tisdale named an unchanged starting XI – the only change came on the bench, where the returning Matt Oakley
replaced Jordan Tillson
. Meanwhile Danny Butterfield
retained the captain’s armband, starting against his former club.
The Grecians began brightly and came close to taking an early lead through Liam Sercombe
. Forward Alex Nicholls
did well to roll Cumbrians captain Danny Grainger on the right, got to the byline, but Matt Young denied Sercombe a tap-in from six yards with an important challenge.
was next to have a pop, shooting from outside the area, but Grainger was in the way with a block. Arron Davies
then had a punt from 30 yards, but didn’t trouble Dan Hanford in goal as his effort missed over the bar.
was relatively untroubled between the posts, but striker Charlie Wyke was trying to make life difficult for the City defence – Christian Ribeiro
had to be alert on the cover to deny the forward a shot after he had held off Jordan Moore-Taylor
The front three of Nicholls, Nichols and Morrison were causing all sorts of problems and when Nichols burst past Anthony Griffith on the right, he found Ryan Harley
with a low ball inside – his left-footed effort was into the arms of Hanford.
The Cumbrians began to find some joy down the right through winger David Amoo, and after some neat feet and dropping of shoulders, he found space to fire a low shot from a tight angle, which Hamon palmed to safety.
Nichols squandered a golden chance to take his tally to a dozen for the season when a perfectly-weighted ball infield found him on the run, but he pulled a left-footed chance past the post from 12 yards.
But he was sooner to turn provider as the Grecians made the breakthrough – after Morrison found Nicholls, the forward hit the bar with a chipped effort – but Nichols recovered the ball quickly, fed Harley, who slotted in the opening goal from the edge of the six-yard box.
City had a bit of a scare when Jamie McAllister went down holding the back of his thigh, but after a brief assessment from the physio, he was deemed fit to continue.
Cumbrians boss Keith Curle opted to shuffle his pack early, and replaced Antony Sweeney with Josh Gillies in an attempt to get back into the game.
And soon after, Carlisle danger-man Amoo got down the right for the hosts and delivered a waist-high cross into the box, which allowed Rigg to steer home a side-footed volley and level the scores before the interval.
Half-time: Carlisle United 1 Exeter City 1
Rigg might have doubled his and Carlisle’s tally soon after the interval as he arrived onto a nod-down from Charlie Wyke, but he got under his half-volley from 25 yards.
Sercombe had a chance when he cut in off the left and saw a shot deflected into Hanford’s arms, and then the Cumbrians goalkeeper had to be at full-stretch to deny Harley a second when he thrashed a left-footed effort from distance.
But Harley’s second did follow before the hour-mark – a Nichols’ shot was deflected into Morrison, who held off his man and set up the midfielder to strike a powerful left-footed effort from 25 yards beyond the reach of Hanford.
Carlisle, seeking another equaliser, began to see more of the ball and McAllister and Christian Ribeiro
both made important defensive headers.
Grainger’s long throw was also being increasingly utilised as well, and a dangerous delivery into the danger area fell kindly for Wyke to shoot on the turn, drawing an important save from Hamon.
entered the action for the final 15 minutes, and before long he had drawn a foul from Archibald-Henville in the left channel. Frustratingly for Exeter, they were denied a chance to take a free-kick quickly while the referee reached in for the yellow card.
The sub then linked well with Harley and found a yard to get a shot away, but it was at a comfortable height for the goalkeeper to take.
Ribeiro was on hand to make a hugely important double-block – he took the meat of Rigg’s effort, before getting the slightest of touches to turn Kyle Dempsey’s follow-up around the post.
offered fresh legs for the final five minutes, replacing Nichols as the Grecians looked to hold out for the win.
And Sercombe sealed the victory in stoppage-time – the Grecians broke quickly as Nicholls sprayed a cross-field ball for the midfielder, who calmly clipped a shot past the advancing goalkeeper and inside the far post.
Full-time: Carlisle United 1 Exeter City 3
Hanford; Young, O’Hanlon (Asamoah 75), Archibald-Henville, Grainger; Amoo, Griffith (Meppen-Walter 65), Dempsey, Sweeney (Gillies 38); Rigg, Wyke.
Unused subs: Spiegel, Paynter, Thirlwell, Brough.
Goal: Rigg (39).
Hamon; Ribeiro, Butterfield (Oakley 57), Moore-Taylor, McAllister; Davies, Sercombe, Harley; Nicholls, Morrison (Cummins 77), Nichols (Wheeler 85).
Unused subs: Pym, Bennett, McCready, Keohane.
Goals: Harley (31, 56), Sercombe (90).
Referee: Tony Harrington
Attendance: 3,724 (154 away).