Former loanee Lee Barnard struck the winner as City were beaten 2-1 by a Southampton XI this evening.
The 28-year-old, who played four games for the Grecians during the ill-fated 2002/03 campaign, scored moments after Lloyd Isgrove’s opener had put the top flight side ahead infront of 1252.
The home side looked lively in the final third throughout the second half and scored a deserved consolation when substitute Guillem Bauza fired into the corner.
In a baking St James Park City started with an experienced starting line-up: Rhys Evans in goal, a back four of Steve Tully, Danny Coles, Pat Baldwin, Craig Woodman, a midfield of Tommy Doherty, Arron Davies, Scot Bennett and Liam Sercombe with John O’Flynn partnering Alan Gow upfront.
Southampton, who named Danny Seaborne in their team, were under early pressure as City tested new signing Paulo Gazzaniga, snapped up from Gillingham this week. First Davies forced the tall keeper into a smart stop and just moments later Liam Sercombe’s effort was cleared off the line.
Evans had to be alert to keep Southampton at bay as the half progressed, denying Sam McQueen, but the game certainly struggled to spark into life in the heat.
The best chances in the final 15 minutes of the first half both fell to the away side. First Sam Hoskins missed a decent chance before a free-kick from Andy Robinson fell at the feet of Jake Sinclair inside the box but he could only put the ball in the Big Bank.
For the first time in pre-season Tisdale didn’t select a brand new eleven for the second half, instead just swapping O’Flynn, Gow and Evans for Bauza, Jamie Cureton and Krysiak.
The changes seemed to make a real difference as Gazzaniga was forced into a number of top-draw saves. First Davies looked up and bent a lovely 20 yard curler towards the top corner only to see the Argentinean dive at full stretch to palm it away. The resulting corner was cleared as far as Woodman at the left-hand side of the box and his rasping drive was kept out by Gazzaniga.
Sercombe then drove an effort wide and Cureton’s effort was blocked before Tisdale introducing Kevin Amankwaah, Elliott Frear, Jake Gosling and trialist Elliott Chamberlain for Tully, Woodman, Sercombe and Davies.
Gosling, who impressed against FC United on the weekend, was involved straight away. He swapped passes with Bennett before feeding Cureton and the striker, who looked sharp during his short cameo, got away a low shot which was tipped onto the post by the diving Gazzaniga.
and Jimmy Keohane were then introduced for Doherty and Bennett.
Southampton had barely threatened since the break but they then grabbed two quick-fire goals to secure the victory. First former Argyle man Ryan Dickson whipped in a cross and Isgrove ran between two City bodies inside the box to head home. Then just moments later another ball into the box from the left-wing was knocked down and there was Barnard to fire home a right-footed shot from close range.
With victory seemingly out of reach Tisdale introduced youngsters Tom Nichols, Jordan Moore-Taylor and Jordan Tillson for Coles, Baldwin and Cureton.
Nichols got involved almost straight away and a fine run saw him stay onside from a long ball and his effort was well-saved by sub keeper Chris Johns.
But Johns could do nothing about a fine consolation goal for the Grecians. Bauza picked up the ball and when the defence held off him he fired a low right-footed shot into the keeper’s right-hand corner.
There were still chances for Keohane and Bauza again before the final whistle. Next up is a home clash with Torquay United on Tuesday 31st July. (7:45pm)