Exeter City beat Bath City 4-3 in an entertaining pre-season encounter at Twerton Park, thanks to goals from Sam Nombe (2), Matt Jay, and James Dodd.
On a warm Somerset evening, City began in a similar vein to the way they had finished so strongly at Taunton on Tuesday. A fluid passing move involving Key and Collins would eventually lead to a corner, Alex Hartridge meeting Joel Randall’s cross with a thumping volley that narrowly cleared the crossbar. With the Grecian’s wingbacks finding time in possession, Jack Sparkes sent in a low cross which saw Sam Nombe’s resulting shot hit the foot of the post. Sparkes would be involved again a short time later, sending a free kick towards the near post that was met by George Ray, who failed to hit the target with his effort.
City would not be denied for long. Josh Key and Archie Collins again linking with patience, this time the cross into Nombe was cushioned into the path of James Dodd, and the impressive midfielder stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
City now had control of the game, both wide areas of the pitch proving fruitful as the probing and patience of Collins, Dodd and Randall led to a chance for Collins. Sadly, it lacked the power to trouble Roman’s keeper Will Fuller on this occasion.
Josh Key was dominating the City right hand side and when he was accompanied on a counter attack by Joel Randall, Bath had no answer. Their interplay led to a cross into the feet of Nombe, the impressive summer addition turned with his back to goal before drilling in City’s second of the evening.
For all City’s dominance, it was Bath who would strike next. With the City wingback’s further up field, the home side found space through Alex Fletcher and his cross was rolled in by Cody Cooke.
City responded well, Sam Nombe’s exuberance resulted in a foul and Jack Sparkes’ subsequent free kick towards the head of George Ray was denied by the Bath defence. Jordan Dyer and James Dodd both had half chances from the resulting corner, but the teams would head in at half time with a single goal between them.
A bright start to the second half saw City win possession from the high press, Nombe’s pace created the room for Joel Randall to cross, but his low delivery evaded the supporting Archie Collins. A free kick won by Nombe saw another City chance, George Ray again causing problems in the home side’s defence, but the header drifted wide.
Bath would then create an excellent chance to equalise, a diagonal ball would open up the City defence, and as Fletcher ran in on goal he was just over stretching with his effort as it sailed over the crossbar.
With the scare survived, City hit back clinically. Josh Key won the loose ball in midfield, played in James Dodd, who swivelled away from his marker to set up Nombe for his second of the evening.
The game then settled into a midfield battle, with Matt Taylor choosing to change all the outfield players as he had done at Taunton. With the lull in the game, it is perhaps at this moment to mention the fact that Lloyd James was sporting a Foden style bleach blonde haircut this evening, quite the look!
Jake Caprice and Jevani Brown, who had shown an excellent link up at Taunton earlier in the week, were quickly back into the groove. Neat passing interplay saw a low Caprice cross create a headed opportunity for Matt Jay, the City forward seeing his effort roll just wide of Fuller’s goal, as the Grecians looked to up the tempo once more.
Tom Smith, who had been industrious in the centre of the pitch for Jerry Gill’s side, then set up a close finish. A ball into an area behind the City defence saw Fletcher cause more problems, his cross found a way to Tom Richards who drilled the ball across goal to be diverted home by Smith.
Ben Seymour was cleverly put through on goal by a Matt Jay pass, but he fired into the side netting from a tight angle. It was a chance that would prove momentarily significant. Smith, now playing higher up the pitch, outmuscled the young Grecian defence following a direct ball and calmly slotted home the equaliser.
With City now under pressure it required a calm presence and there are not many calmer than Matt Jay. Patient play found the forward in a central area and after twisting and turning he fired home to give City the lead once more.
An exciting encounter that both sides will take positives from. More goals for City, with some slick play once again catching the eye. The focus will now move onto Weymouth as the season gets ever closer.
First Half: Scott Brown, Jordan Dyer, George Ray, Alex Hartridge, Josh Key, Jack Sparkes, Harry Kite, Archie Collins, James Dodd, Joel Randall, Sam Nombe
Second Half (60 Minute Team): Scott Brown, Pierce Sweeney, Jake Caprice, Matt Jay, Jevani Brown, Ben Seymour, Cheick Diabate (Wragg,) Ellis Johnson, Jack Veale, Eli Collins, Zeph Collins