Report: Exeter City 2 Accrington 0
Exeter City returned to the npower League 2 automatic promotion spot after earning a 2-0 victory against Accrington Stanley, courtesy of second half substitute Jimmy Keohane.
A patient, and at times sideways performance from the Grecians came alive in the last quarter following the introduction of both Arron Davies and Keohane.
After Tommy Doherty’s perfectly-timed square ball found an unmarked Keohane approaching the Stanley penalty area the 22-year-old curled the ball high into the top left hand corner of the net.
The breakthrough was followed by a goalkeeping error, due to haranguing from Cureton, laying the ball back to Keohane in acres of space who buried the ball into the open goal for his second.
Paul Tisdale made just two changes to the starting XI that overcame Morcambe 3-0 last Saturday. Arron Davies, scorer of Exeter’s second goal in that game, and Jimmy Keohane made way for Guillem Bauza and 19-year-old Jake Gosling who made his first Football League start for Exeter.
A defensive mix-up almost led to Exeter gaining an early lead after a Tommy Doherty looping ball into the box was headed by Mark Hughes, under pressure from the oncoming striker, over his own keeper which just went wide.
A few half chances then went astray for City, with Bauza having a few neat touches and a dragged-wide shot past the left-hand post, but didn’t retain enough possession to capitalise upon the early momentum. Jake Gosling pulled off an audacious shot from just outside the penalty area but was deflected, with a number of bodies in the box getting in the way.
Bauza continued to force the play up top, threading Mark Molesley through on goal who was narrowly blocked out by two Stanley defenders. Moments later a lofted cross from the left from Bauza was chased down by Cureton but was just beaten to it by the defender, though the potential was becoming apparent.
It was all City for the first 20 minutes, a number of occasions pushing the ball out to the wings with some intent. Stanley weren’t offering much up top except for a few long balls which were dealt with painlessly by City’s defence.
At the midway point in the half the game quietened down somewhat and Exeter’s passing lost a little bit of its fluidity. Stanley started to enjoy a bit more of the possession after 20 minutes but didn’t produce much of note.
The first yellow card of the game was shown to Danny Coles for a heavy, if a little late, challenge on James Gray just inside the host’s half who clearly felt its full force.
Exeter tried on a number of occasions to profit from the long ball, using Bauza as the target man with Cureton trying to run off of it. This tactic didn’t produce too much as Stanley’s defence was left relatively unscathed.
Best chance yet came from Amankwaah, running at speed towards the goal line who whipped a scything right-footed ball from the right that flashed past everybody in the box but Exeter failed to make anything from the follow up.
Woodman tripped Murphy as he was making his way to the right-hand edge of the corner box, presenting Stan with their first real glimpse of goal. Wilson with his left foot drove it into the feet of the wall as the chance was spurned and Exeter didn’t look fazed in the slightest.
James Gray’s right foot wide miss / conversion brought the biggest cheer from the crowd as it hit a window of a neighbouring house on St James Road.
The final chance before the half-time whistle saw Bauza drop in a short cross from the right by-line which was luckily poked past Rachubka by one of his own defenders and went innocuously wide. James Beattie provided the last notable action of the half, going into the book after leaving Amankwaah on the deck.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Accrington Stanley 0
Despite being relatively unoccupied for the duration of the first half Krysiak was replaced by Rhys Evans due to an injury seemingly sustained at half time.
City started the second half where they had spent most of the first, near Stanley’s penalty area, though were frustrated as no clear cut chance was produced.
The team were again producing crosses that asked questions but nobody was on the end of them to give an answer.
Some good interplay between Bauza and Molesley looked intriguing just inside the Stanley penalty area, but the latter’s short-range cross from the right was easily gobbled up by the keeper.
Molesley, largely quiet throughout the night was replaced 10 minutes into the second half by Arron Davies.
Jamie Cureton got round the back of Dean Winnard as both battled for the ball running with some momentum towards goal. Winnard was subsequently booked as he looked to have brought down Cureton.
Exeter were still maintaining superiority, with plenty of possession to show for it, but to the fans’ frustration were not producing many substantial chances.
Still struggling to become more fluid Tisdale opted to take off Bauza, who had looked lively throughout the game, for Jimmy Keohane.
Cureton, in a rare moment of excitement, beat the offside trap from a Gosling pass 30 yards out and had time to shoot but was closed down by a Stanley defender.
James Gray, against the run of play, reassured fans that Stanley were more than still in the game after his shot from the left narrowly passed the cross bar.
A leaping challenge from Davies into the back of Gray right on the edge of the penalty area gave away a dangerous free kick for Stanley. The free kick, taken by Beattie on his right food, was spurned again as the ball didn’t make it higher than Amankwaah’s groin.
Finally City produced a goal, with close interplay between Davies and Doherty on the right hand side of the penalty area, the latter of whom cooly played a square ball across inside edge the area which found Keohane in acres of space. Keohane buried it with the inside of his left foot high into the left hand upper corner of the Stanley goal.
City’s blushes were spared when Coles hit his own bar after sliding in, the ball coming off of his leg.
Moments later Cureton, chasing a seemingly innocuous ball, put off the Stanley goalkeeper near the goal line who slipped, giving the ball away to Cureton who laid the ball back to a composed Keohane, subsequently burying the ball into the back of the net.
Immediately after Stanley replaced Wilson with Lee Molyneux.
The momentum was now with City who kept pressing with play remaining in Stanley’s half, and City held out in the last moments to send the fans home happy.
Full-time: Exeter City 2 Accrington Stanley 0
Exeter City: Krysiak (Evans h-t); Amankwaah, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Molesley (Davies 55), Doherty, Bennett, Gosling; Bauza (Keohane 65), Cureton.
Subs (not used): Tully, Dawson, Reid, Moore-Taylor.
Goals: Keohane (79, 82).
Accrington Stanley: Rachubka; Hunt, Hughes, Winnard, Liddle; Boco, Joyce, Murphy, Wilson (Molyneux 79); Gray (Amond 89), Beattie (Carver 83).
Subs (not used): Dawber, Hatfield, Miller, Aldred.
Referee: D. Deadman