Exeter City claimed a hard fought 1-0 win over Carlisle United at Brunton Park thanks to Pierce Sweeney’s second-half header.
The defender did well in a crowded penalty box to rise and nod in from close range to give City all three points against a Carlisle side that battled to the end.
Match report sponsored by Speedy Freight
As the Grecians returned to League Two action, following their outing in the Checkatrade Trophy in midweek, Paul Tisdale made two changes to the side that beat Morecambe 4-1 last weekend at St James Park as Hiram Boateng and Lee Holmes came in for Jordan Tillson and Dean Moxey.
In an entertaining first 45 minutes, the home side had a good opportunity to test the City backline early on through Shaun Miller.
After he was played in down the right-hand side his effort was blocked well for a corner, before Danny Grainger saw his shot from just outside the box edge just wide of Christy Pym’s goal.
But moments later, City were inches from taking the lead as they forced two excellent chances to beat Jack Bonham.
After Jayden Stockley made a nuisance of himself in the United box, with his back to goal, he flicked over his head only to be denied by the post.
Seconds later, Reuben Reid then forced Bonham into smart stop after he found space just inside the Carlisle box to shoot at goal.
City then had the ball in the net on ten minutes through Troy Brown, but unfortunately for the travelling Grecians supporters, the defender’s volley from a corner was ruled out for a foul as the Exeter players tried to attack the incoming delivery.
As the home side pounced on a City defensive area, James Brown then won back possession high in the Grecians half, before darting inside the area and going down under pressure from Craig Woodman, but referee Eddie Ilderton waved away any penalty appeals from United.
Another good City opportunity came just before the half hour mark when Pierce Sweeney delivered a pinpoint cross towards the head of Stockley, but the forward was unable to keep his header on target under pressure from the Carlisle defence.
The Grecians were then forced into making an early substitution as Luke Croll limped off 10 minutes before half-time with Moxey taking the defender’s place.
More opportunities came and went for City, with Jake Taylor coming in at the back post unmarked five minutes before half-time, but the midfielder miscued his cross as he looked to help the ball across goal.
And on the brink of half-time, Boateng saw his header edge just over from Holmes’ cross meaning the teams were level going into the break.
The second half was just three minutes old when the Grecians fired themselves ahead courtesy of Sweeney.
A Holmes corner caused havoc in the United area as Brown helped the ball back across goal for the Irishman to nod home from close range and put the Grecians one up.
Mike Jones attempted to bring the home side level on 55 minutes when he received it centrally from Luke Joyce, but the midfielder was unable to keep his effort on target as he dragged his shot wide from distance.
City were then inches from doubling their lead just after the hour mark when Reid had a golden chance for the Grecians.
After keeping the ball well, Woodman then fashioned a superb cross from the left, but Reid’s glancing header flashed just past Bonham’s left-hand post.
Pym was then forced into a smart stop from Joyce as the City keeper did excellently to keep the sides level.
As the midfielder found himself in space centrally he shot powerfully but the City keeper did brilliantly to get down low and make an important save.
City then had Moxey to thank just moments after as he made a clearance off the line from Shaun Miller’s goal bound header as Keith Curle’s side searched for a way back into the match.
Pym was then forced into a fantastic save from Clint Hill as the home fans thought they’d levelled the match on 82 minutes.
A header from close range was athletically saved by the City keeper, before Sweeney did his defensive duties well to clear away with the help of Moxey to keep the Grecians narrowly ahead.
Gary Liddle then came to the rescue for the home side in the last minute of the 90 as Stockley had the chance to wrap it up late for City.
After being played through by Taylor, the City number 11 managed to slot past Bonham, but Liddle did well to slide and clear the ball away off the line.
Carlisle continued to pump balls into the City box in the dying minutes, but credit to the Grecians’ defence who battled well to head away as Tisdale’s men held out for three points.
Carlisle United: Bonham, Grainger, Joyce, Liddle, Jones (Kennedy, 75), Hope, Adams, Brown (Devitt, 11), Miller, Etuhu (Lambe, 65), Hill
Subs not used: George, Miller, Devitt, Nabi, Cosgrove, Lambe
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman, James, Holmes, Stockley, Croll (Moxey, 35), Taylor, Reid (Tillson, 70), Brown, Boateng (McAlinden, 90+3)
Subs not used: Hamon, Archibald-Henville, Jay, Edwards
Attendance: 4677 (Inc, 233, away)