Olejnik, McAllister, Oakley, Nicholls, Moore-Taylor (capt) (Ribeiro 59’), Nichols (Davies 67’), McCready, Tillson, Stockley, Grant (Reid 84’), Brown.
Woodman, Hoskins, Hamon, Wheeler.
Nichols 5’, Ribeiro 79’
Mooney, Buxton, Wright, Pearson, Halliday, McConville (Gornell 86’), Crooks, Conneely, Mingoia, McCartan (Carver 87’), Kee.
Etheridge, Davies, Bruna, Procter, Wakefield.
SUBSTITUTE CHRISTIAN RIBEIRO struck with eleven minutes of normal time remaining to secure Exeter City a first home win of 2016.
In a frantic start to the game City had fallen behind after Shay McCartan’s third goal in a week. But the Grecians responded magnificently, equalising two minutes later through Tom Nichols
’ twelfth goal of the season, before Ribeiro sealed the points, bundling home in the seventy-ninth minute.
City boss Paul Tisdale made six changes to the side that exited the Emirates FA Cup at Anfield last Wednesday, including a start for in-form striker Jayden Stockley who was making his first appearance for City at St James Park. Notable team news for the visitors was that eleven-goal top-scorer Josh Windass was left out of the squad due to a groin injury, meaning Billy Kee was the man to lead the Stanley attack, playing just in front of Shay McCartan in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
The Grecians were quick off the mark, threatening twice in the opening two minutes. First Tom Nichols
forced a routine save from Jason Mooney in the Stanley goal, before Jordan Moore-Taylor
’s shot after an Alex Nicholls
knock-down was collected by the giant Stanley keeper.
After a lively start from City, it was the away side who took the lead with their first attack of the game. In a blistering counter-attacking move, McCartan latched on to a through-ball, before rounding Bobby Olejnik
and drilling into the City net for his third goal in a week.
Any fears of a lingering FA Cup hangover were quickly dashed though, as the home side restored parity two minutes after falling behind. A wonderful ball from Matt Oakley
sent Tom Nichols
clean through on goal, and he proceeded to fire across the Stanley keeper and into the bottom-left corner for his twelfth goal of the season.
After a minute’s applause in memory of late City fan David Hunt, who fell ill on the Big Bank during the AFC Wimbledon game, the Grecians went through the gears again. After Stockley’s header was tipped over for a City corner, the Grecians threatened with the resultant set-piece but Tom McCready
’s driven effort was blocked by a Stanley defender.
Accrington threatened to take the lead again in the twenty-second minute in what was becoming a frantic end-to-end affair. After midfielders Matt Crooks and Sean McConville played a neat one-two on the left-hand side, McConville worked the space for a shot at goal, but Olejnik was equal to the winger’s low-effort from a tight-angle. McConville was at it again three minutes later, as arriving late into the City box, the lively left-winger connected with Piero Mingoia’s whipped cross from the opposite side, but the Stanley forward miscued his effort as the ball sailed high over the crossbar and into the contingent of away fans behind the goal.
Next it was City’s turn to break forward. Stockley was coming off best in most of his ariel duels, and after his knock-down found Alex Nicholls
in the Stanley area, the City winger couldn’t quite get his shot off in time as a defender got across to block his effort on goal.
Accrington, who began the day in sixth place in Sky Bet
League 2, came close again with five minutes of normal time remaining in the first half. McConville’s free-kick from the right-hand side of the City area found Kee at the back-post, but the former Northern Irish under-21 international could only find the side-netting with his headed effort.
After a rampant opening forty minutes, the game entered some what of a lull during the closing stages of the first-half, and the two sides went in for the break on level terms.
HALF-TIME: EXETER CITY 1–1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY
McCartan had been a thorn in City’s side throughout the first-half, using his intelligent running to find pockets of space in behind striker Billy Kee. It was McCartan who was responsible for the first major chance of the second-half as the ex-Burnley forward saw his effort strike the inside of the post with Olejnik left stranded.
In contrast to the opening stages of the first-half, neither side were looking particularly threatening after McCartan’s early chance. Just before the hour-mark, City were forced into their first substitution of the afternoon, as Jordan Moore-Taylor
was replaced by Christian Ribeiro
after picking up a knock.
Shortly after Ribeiro’s introduction the away side began to pick up the pace again. First centre-midfielder Matt Crooks fired over with a speculative effort from the right-hand side, before Ribeiro was at hand to intercept a loose ball in the City area following a Stanley free-kick.
Exeter created their first real chance of the half in the seventieth minute. After Joel Grant
carried the ball to the edge of the Stanley area, the Jamaican winger had the composure to slide a well-weighted ball into the path of substitute Arron Davies
, but the midfielder slid his shot narrowly wide of the far-post.
The Grecians almost fell behind four minutes later. After a long-ball was pumped into the City area, Troy Brown
aimed his header backwards towards Olejnik, but with the City keeper back-peddling, the ball found its way over the Austrian stopper and on to the crossbar.
After surviving a spell of Stanley pressure, it was the Grecians who took the lead with eleven minutes of normal time remaining. After a scramble in the Stanley box, substitute Ribeiro reacted fastest amongst a crowd of players, bundling home to the delight of the St James Park crowd.
Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled by the fourth official, but it wasn’t enough for Stanley, as City secured their first league win at St James Park since their victory over Cambridge United last October.
FULL-TIME: EXETER CITY 2–1 ACCRINGTON STANLEYAttendance:
3,669 (75 away)
Man of the Match: Joel Grant