Grecians win at Woodspring Stadium
Exeter City continued their positive pre-season form against lower-league opposition as a youthful representative side triumphed 3-1 over Weston-super-Mare.
It was Jake Gosling that opened the scoring by bundling home a cross in the first half, and he turned provider after the break as Elliott Chamberlain doubled the lead.
Nabi Diallo halved the arrears for the Seagulls midway through the second half, but a second goal for City’s Welsh striker capped a victory on the road.
With many of the first-team players rested ahead of Friday evening’s trip to Salisbury, a team of young pros were bolstered by some promising players from the under-18 side.
For the home side, Ollie Knowles – who was on professional terms at St James Park at the beginning of the previous season – was amongst the numbers on the bench.
Minutes into the game, the Seagulls carved the first chance of the match as Kayne McLaggon showed plenty of industry, though he leant back as he smashed a right-footed shot and was never in danger of troubling Christy Pym.
McLaggon was involved again soon afterwards by bursting positively through the field. He laid a neat ball out to Louis Feeley with the outside of his boot to allow the midfielder to drill a low first-time shot, which tested the reactions of Pym.
The hosts were in the early ascendancy and when a free-kick was conceded square to the box along the left-hand touchline, the Seagulls tried to catch City out with a quick one. The ball was played in for Ashley Kington to strike, but it whistled a fraction over the bar.
Knowles got an early introduction to the fray as McLaggon picked up an early knock and had to be withdrawn from action.
The Grecians began to shift the momentum somewhat and a lively dart goalwards by Chamberlain had defenders scrambling until Jamie Laird took captain’s authority with a tough sliding tackle as the Welshman was about to pull the trigger.
City won a free-kick soon after and, once Matt Grimes had conceded duties to Jimmy Keohane, the Irishman had a pop at goal – despite beating the wall, goalkeeper Lloyd Irish was untroubled.
Despite seeing a few waves of attacks repelled in quick succession, persistence finally paid when Gosling was the first name to have his taken on the scoresheet. City worked the ball around outside the Weston box until Tom Nichols was able to put in a dangerous cross from the byline which was mishit by the first City leg, but turned in at the far post by the winger.
The Seagulls looked intent on pulling back level immediately and almost did so through Bradley Ash. Rather than hitting a bouncer on his left, he instead allowed a pass to run across his body to wallop a right-footed strike from outside the box and it needed a touch by Pym to help it onto the bar and on for a corner.
City really should have been two up at the interval when Nichols punched a well-weighted ball around the corner for strike-partner Chamberlain to run onto. With the goal at his mercy, the striker somehow conspired to miss by dragging the ball clear of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.
Half-time: Weston-super-Mare 0 Exeter City 1
The lively Diallo nearly allowed Weston a route back into the match, as a clever spin following a short-corner routine gave him the chance of teeing up Feeley, but he couldn’t direct anywhere but into the stand.
Instead, it was Exeter that struck the next blow. Gosling was released down the flank and pinged in a perfect cross for Chamberlain to apply a deft touch too – and even though Irish managed to get fingertips on it, the ball eked out of his grasp and into the net.
Just as City were introducing under-18 trio Matt Jay, Ollie Watkins and Connor Riley-Lowe, the home side hit back through Diallo. He had profited when the Grecians suffered a lapse from a throw-in, allowing him time and space to steady himself and zip a belting shot past Pym.
Diallo was looking the likeliest to give Weston an equalising goal, and a left-footed strike from the right channel brought good reactions from Pym which simply plucked the shot out of the air.
And as the match went on, fitness levels began to show as the home side were suddenly on the defensive as swathes of City attacks came forward. Chamberlain managed to badger the Weston defence into an error, and when the ball broke to Watkins who pushed into the pass of the Welshman who shot hard and low into the far bottom corner.
Watkins had the chance to add some sheen to the occasion in the dying stages as a Keohane centre invited a bullet header, but it flew marginally beyond the post.
Full-time: Weston-super-Mare 1 Exeter City 3
Weston-super-Mare: Irish, Walker, Slocombe, Diallo, J.Laird, Feeley, Ash, McLaggon, Kington, Grubb.
Subs: C.Laird, Llewellyn, Hemminds, Trowbridge, Knowles, Wright, Camm, Purnell.
Goal: Diallo (69).
Exeter City: Pym, Tillson, Wannell, Anderson, Moore-Taylor, Keohane, Grimes, Jagger Cane, Gosling, Chamberlain, Nichols.
Subs: Cairns, Riley-Lowe, Pope, Jay, Watkins.
Goals: Gosling (35), Chamberlain (63,75).
Referee: D. Ricketts