Exeter City finished their preparations for life in EFL Sky Bet League One with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Torquay United as Brett McGavin's close range finish and heroics from Halstead in the Torquay goal was enough for the win.
Manager Matt Taylor named a strong starting XI with Jevani Brown, Josh Key and Harry Kite missing out with slight niggles. The experienced Scott Brown started in goal for City.
The first chance of the game went to Torquay, as Sam Stubbs soft pass was intercepted by Hanson who shifted into the City box but fired high and wide over Scott Brown in the City goal.
The Grecians first chance of note came after 13 minutes, as Archie Collins picked up the ball in the centre, after driving forward and evading a couple challenges he found Josh Coley who quickly switched to Jack Sparkes, his low cross was diverted into the post by a Torquay defender and was then cleared.
Dylan Crowe tested Scott Brown in the 27th minute as he turned on the edge of the box and hit a half-volley, but it was a comfortable save.
Moments later, a well worked free-kick routine saw Jake Caprice find space down City’s right, he sent a cross to the back post which Tim Dieng headed down towards the bottom corner, but Halstead was equal to it.
The chance kicked City into gear and Jack Sparkes dipped and weaved past a pair of challenges before swapping passes with Tim Dieng, his cross into the six-yard box was so close to the boot of MJ but was well collected by Halstead.
Minutes later a fast and fluid counter saw Archie Collins move forward before finding Tim Dieng just outside the box, he quickly moved the ball on to Sam Nombe who was quickly closed down by Halstead to smother his shot.
City should have been ahead just before the break. Jack Sparkes found space inside the box and chipped a cross towards the back post, Sam Nombe connected with the header and Halstead reacted quickly to push the ball onto the post.
The first chance of the second half fell to the feet of Jack Sparkes who fired wide from a tight angle just inside the Torquay area.
Jack Sparkes was at the heart of the Grecians strong start to the second half, and he whipped a flat cross in to the six-yard box which Halstead again did well to save with his feet, Sam Nombe was denied on the follow up with another reaction save, but the flag was up for offside.
Just before the hour mark Sweeney whipped a ball into the box which Tim Dieng sent towards goal, Halstead again pulled out a brilliant stop. The ball was eventually sent in again by Sweeney and Tim Dieng headed wide.
Pierce Sweeney continued to deliver great crosses into the box and on 73 minutes he found Josh Coley in space in the area, but he headed wide.
Moments later, former Grecian Dean Moxey found space down the left and sent a low cross which was just ahead of the Torquay attacker.
The hosts took the lead after 80 minutes after a free-kick was delivered into the box, Scott Brown made a superb reaction save but the follow up was poked home by Brett McGavin.
City pushed for an equaliser but were unable to create any real chances with Torquay taking the 1-0 win.
The Grecians kick-off the EFL League One season away at Lincoln City next Saturday, July 30 and you can join the 450+ that have already got their tickets by clicking here.
Exeter City: Brown; Caprice, Sweeney, Stubbs (Diabate ’60), Grounds, Sparkes; Collins, Dieng, Coley (Borges ’81); Jay © Nombe
Subs not used: Lee, Pond, Hartridge, Clark, Iseguan
Bookings: Sweeney, Coley
Torquay United: Halstead; Crowe, Omar, Marshall, Evans, McGavin, Donnellan, Goodwin, Moxey ©
Subs: Quinn, Bishop, Thomas, Koszela, Lovett, Tomlinson, Brooks, Winsor, Trialist
Attendance: 2634 (inc 911 away)