Exeter City won their third away game of the season at Stevenage with a battling 10-man performance.
The Grecians were dealt a blow midway through the first half when captain Jordan Moore-Taylor
was shown a straight red card, but they put in an energetic and resolute performance to win 2-0 thanks to second-half strikes from Lee Holmes
and Ollie Watkins
City were forced to make two changes to the starting line-up from the game against Plymouth as Joel Grant
and Ryan Harley
both dropped out through injury. They were replaced by Craig Woodman
and Reuben Reid.
Reid, in his first start for the Grecians, was in the thick of the action early on as he won the ball on the edge of the area before feeding a pass to Watkins who fired just over.
Reid was full of energy up front in the first half, winning plenty of the balls played up to him, while Robbie Simpson was also putting himself about as Tis lined his side up in a conventional 4-4-2 formation.
The Grecians almost took the lead on 10 minutes when Simpson’s shot from the right side of the box was saved by Jamie Jones and had to be booted off the line by Frazer Franks.
However, the visitors’ dominant start to the game was dealt a blow on 23 minutes as Jordan Moore-Taylor
was shown a red card for tugging back Tom Pett as he tried to race in on goal.
After that, it was the home side who created the better chances as Andrew Fox hit a scissor kick volley just wide of the mark and Jack King drove a right-foot shot past the post.
City still had their chances though with Jack Stacey, who switched to a right-back role following Moore-Taylor’s dismissal, looking dangerous and Reid having a penalty appeal turned down as he and King tangled in the Stevenage area.
The second half took a while to get going in terms of goalmouth action, with both sides looking more organized at the back than they had done in the opening 45 minutes.
It was a corner that created Stevenage’s first after the break as Luke Wilkinson headed goalwards, but Reid continued his impressive display by hooking the ball off the line. Jobi McAnuff then warmed the gloves of Olejnik with a speculative effort from 30 yards.
Tis turned to his bench on the hour bringing on Holmes for the hard-working Reid, while Ben Kennedy came on for Stevenage.
Holmes’ first action was to close down keeper Jones out of his area which prevented Lloyd James with a shooting chance from 40 yards which drifted wide of goal.
However, Luke Croll then had to put in a superb block as Pierce Sweeney lost the ball cheaply 30 yards from goal presenting a good sight at goal for Tom Pett as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
A minute later though and City were in front as flick-on from Simpson got the ball to Holmes who dinked the ball past the Stevenage defender and then coolly slotted a shot past Jones on what was his 300th career game.
Simpson was then at the heart of the action 60 seconds later as the Grecians made it 2-0 as he played the ball out to Watkins on the right. Watkins then exchanged passes with Stacey before finding the bottom corner of the net.
Stevenage started to push forward in search of a way back into the match and had a chance as Ben Kennedy headed goalwards from corner, but Olejnik was equal to it.
However, City were still creating chances on the counter and Holmes almost had a second as he shot from inside the box squirmed through Jones’ grasp and out for a corner and then Stacey hit a shot against the outside off the post from a tight angle.
After that moment City grew in confidence and managed to keep the ball well enough in attacking areas to comfortably hang onto the points.
Stevenage: Jones; Lee, Franks, Wilkinson, Nthle; McAnuff, King, Tonge, Fox (Kennedy, 60); Walker (Henry, 77), Pett (McKirdy, 70). Subs not used: Preston, Liburd, McKirdy, Gorman, Cowans, Henry.
Booked: McAnuff, Kennedy
Exeter City: Olejnik; Sweeney, Croll, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Stacey, Taylor (Oakley, 90), James, Watkins; Simpson (Holmes, 60), Reid. Subs not used: Pym, McAlinden, Jay, Riley-Lowe, Byrne.
Booked: Reid, Simpson