Exeter City's only pre-season match at St James Park ended in defeat as they were beaten 2-0 by League One side Shrewsbury Town.
Two goals inside the opening ten minutes of the game from Daniel Udoh settled the contest, despite the Grecians having great chances during the game.
With the new pitch watered and ready to go, this match was set to offer final preparation for both teams ahead of the big kick off next week.
City would start brightly, neat interchange on the home side’s right found a crossing chance for Josh Key. With Nombe controlling the delivery on his chest, he let fly on the volley and produced a stunning one handed stop from Shrews’ Keeper Marco Marosi.
That moment of brilliance spurred the Shropshire side into life. Former Grecian Ryan Bowman outmuscled the City backline and his ball across the goal was diverted in by Udoh for the lead. Bowman and Udoh were now causing problems with increasing regularity. Dawson made an instinctive stop from Bowman at close range but, as the ball was recycled, Udoh, who may have had some fortune with his first goal, made no mistake by drilling home a second.
The game became a battleground in midfield, both sides trying to keep patience in building attacking play. However, City were to nearly pay the price for a lack of care in possession, with the ball won back by Shrewsbury, only an excellent sliding clearance prevented the counter giving Steve Cotterill’s team a three goal advantage.
After a period of the Shrews playing keep ball in defensive areas, City responded. Joel Randall and Tim Dieng linked in midfield before the French midfielder played in Jevani Brown. Brown rounded Marosi before a brilliant defensive header cleared the chance off the line. Despite a largely dominant first half from the visitors, City were now growing into the game. Jevani Brown was again the architect, winning the ball wide, before a driving run at goal saw Marosi push away his low effort.
Josh Key was to go closest to getting City back into the game. Jevani Brown found space centrally, his turn and pass put Key in on goal, but Marosi denied the scoring opportunity as he was swiftly off his line. Joel Randall forced another save as the half came to an end, attackers certainly on top in the first forty five minutes. With plenty of goalmouth action, Matt Taylor will have been ruing missed opportunities as City headed into the break two goals behind.
After ending the first half well, City maintained that tempo at the beginning of the second. Moving the ball around in good areas, it was now a case of patiently looking to create that big chance. Both sides were having long spells keeping the ball, but the play was largely in territories that were not going to cause either defence many issues as the game fell into a more typical pre season fixture.
City were to create a moment of quality with fifteen minutes remaining. Dieng and Brown made the crossing opportunity for Sparkes, and his back post delivery was just beyond Nombe, his header wide of the target as he stretched to make contact. City were now trying to build a big finish. Nombe created his own shooting opportunity, this time the ball blocked for a corner, before Ben Seymour’s header failed to have the required power on it to trouble Marosi from another wide delivery.
After an action filled first half, the second half did not quite deliver the same entertainment, yet Matt Taylor’s City were equal to their higher level opponents after weathering a difficult opening to the game. As the players left the field in an empty stadium full of echoes, we are now only a week away from SJP having a very different, more energetic and boisterous feel to it.
Starting line up: Dawson, Sparkes, Ray, Sweeney, Grounds (Rowe,) Key, Atangana, Collins (Dieng/Kite,) Brown (Dodd,) Randall (Seymour,) Nombe