The Grecians grabbed a sixth win in eight games to return to the top half of the table as they overcame Morecambe 2-0 at the Globe Arena.
Shaun Beeley inadvertently gave Exeter the lead early on as he diverted Christian Ribeiro
’s cross into his own net, and second-half sub Tom Nichols
rounded it off late on with a fine finish.
It also represented a first clean-sheet of the season with everyone mucking in to help Christy Pym
keep the door shut from the Shrimps attack.
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale named an unchanged starting XI for the trip to the Globe Arena – Liam Sercombe
’s injury kept him out once again, after missing out in the midweek win against Wycombe Wanderers. Kevin Ellison, who netted twice in the corresponding fixture last season, missed out injured for the Shrimps.
The Shrimps could have taken the lead in the early stages when a headed clearance from captain Scot Bennett
came out as far as Ryan Williams – he found an angle to shoot but flashed his effort over.
And at the other end it was Jimmy Keohane
that had a great chance – Danny Butterfield
’s diagonal found the head of Graham Cummins
, who cushioned into the path of his countryman, but the volley curled over.
City did take the lead with the game less than ten minutes old. Exeter were enjoying the freedom of the pitch and it came from good build-up down the right-flank. Bennett threaded a neat ball to Christian Ribeiro
, who cut back from the byline to Davies – his cross, meant for Cummins, was chested in at the back stick for a Beeley own goal.
The Grecians were close to doubling the lead from a typically troublesome Matt Grimes
free-kick. The teenage midfielder was given a chance to deliver from the left after Cummins was felled on the byline – and only a sprawling save by Scott Davies prevented a second own-goal.
Morecambe were struggling to keep up with Exeter who were coming time and again and threatening Scott Davies’ goal. Woodman arrived at the far stick to meet a Davies delivery but got under his volley, and then the left-back almost turned provider with an inch-perfect ball for Wheeler, who was denied by an incredible acrobatic save from the stopper.
The hosts mounted a rare foray into Exeter territory as Laurence Wilson delivered for Jack Redshaw, who stabbed a volley wide. Soon after Christy Pym
was called into action, as he had to be alert to turn Ryan Williams’ overhit cross over the bar.
City had more chances to take a bigger margin into the interval, but Grimes saw a shot closed down and Ribeiro’s late header was over the crossbar from an outswinging corner.
Half-time: Morecambe 0 Exeter City 1
Morecambe threw on Tom McCready at the break in place of Tom Barkhuizen as they looked to gain a foothold back in the game. Early in the second period Jack Sampson guided a header wide of Pym’s far post from a left-flank delivery.
Exeter continued to threaten again and again and Jim Bentley’s side were incredibly lucky to survive another attack. Bustling forward play from Keohane allowed the midfielder to set through Cummins, but goalkeeper Davies got down low to block. Wheeler followed up and his deflected effort was hacked just off the line, despite Exeter protestations that it had crossed for a second City goal.
David Noble was introduced for Wheeler with just over 20 minutes remaining, as City aimed to offer a little more protection to their defensive ranks with a lead intact.
Pym was forced to make an acrobatic space when Redshaw hammered a right-footed effort from 30 yards, and the stopper got across the goal well and gathered at the second attempt.
Grecians sub Nichols was introduced for Cummins as Paul Tisdale added fresh legs to the attack, and he came close to adding the second as he met an Arron Davies
header at the back stick, which was tipped over.
But he did grab the clincher with a minute remaining as he held his run superbly to allow Noble to chip one into the channel to run onto. He was cool and composed and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way as he sealed the three points with a firm finish.
Full-time: Morecambe 0 Exeter City 2
Davies; Beeley, Parrish, Hughes, Wilson; Fleming, Wright (Amond 75), Williams; Barkhuizen (McCready 46), Redshaw, Sampson (Mullin 67).
Subs: Arestidou, Kenyon, Edwards, McGowan.
Pym; Butterfield, Ribeiro, Oakley, Bennett, Woodman; Grimes, Davies; Keohane, Wheeler (Noble 69), Cummins (Nichols 81).
Subs: Hamon, Jay, Tillson, Riley-Lowe, Watkins.
Goals: Beeley (og. 9), Nichols (89).
Attendance: 1,787 (162 away).
Referee: Graham Eltringham