Report: Plymouth Argyle 1 Exeter City 0
Exeter City finished on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline at Home Park, as Plymouth Argyle took the victory in the second Devon Derby of the season.
The Grecians had started the brighter in the game, but as Argyle settled, they looked more and more threatening.
They finally made the breakthrough just before the interval, with a piece of individual skill by Jason Banton who fired in a fine strike from distance.
Exeter remained within touching distance without but it just crept away from them, as chances went amiss in the closing stages as the hosts collected all three points.
City had been buoyed by the news that Tommy Doherty was back available for selection, and he came straight back into the starting XI for the derby fixture. Jamie Cureton also was also a handed a starting berth, meaning a seat on the bench for Jake Gosling and John O’Flynn.
Mark Molesley began his second Devon Derby of the season – this time in the red and white of Exeter, having featured in Argyle green when the sides met at St James Park back in December.
In a tempestuous derby atmosphere, the Grecians were able to settle early and work the ball upfield – but it was a direct ball by Craig Woodman that found Cureton for the game’s first chance. A strafing, raking ball allowed the City man to peel off the defender and collect. However after stepping around the attentions of the defence, Cureton’s shot arrowed wide of the target.
The Pilgrims responded in kind as loanee Reuben Reid lined up a shot from 20 yards from a central position after a mazy midfield run, but his left-footed effort was fielded easily by Artur Krysiak.
Exeter were working the ball around the edge of the Argyle box nicely in the opening ten minutes and retaining possession with superb off-the-ball movement, and Scot Bennett lined up a first-time effort from 25 yards, though a deflection allowed Jake Cole to gather without really being troubled.
And up the other end, Onismor Bhasera and Andres Gurrieri chanced their arm in quick succession, but could only fire wide. It was indicative, however, of the Pilgrims working their way back into the match and gaining lengthier spells of possession, having surrendered the ball easily in the opening exchanges.
So it came slightly against the run of play when a neat passing move between Lawson D’Ath and Arron Davies ended with the latter delivering a dinked left-footed cross from the byline, which Cole just about managed to pluck out of the air with the City attack lurking.
With the game seeming to drift goallessly into the interval, Guy Branston didn’t quite make enough contact with a glancing header to find the target after a ball was hung up from the left.
But right before the referee blew for half-time, the Pilgrims finally broke the deadlock through a piece of individual improvisation by Jason Banton. He created space for himself with a neat first-touch before lashing a left-footed strike across the goal from 25 yards, which pinged off the base of the post on the way into the back of the net.
Half-time: Plymouth Argyle 1 Exeter City 0
Unfortunately Exeter re-emerged in the second half without Doherty, who had only just made the matchday squad through his back injury. Former Plymouth youngster Jake Gosling was his replacement, while Lee Cox was withdrawn for Luke Young for the hosts.
And right after the restart Cureton had a half-chance to equalise as another Woodman ball was misread by the Plymouth defence, but the striker’s touch didn’t quite have the delicacy it needed on the turn inside the six-yard box, and Cole collected low.
Banton soon had a chance to grab his and Argyle’s second of the game as he latched onto a loose ball that had bobbled outside the area. He steadied himself for a shot that didn’t lack power, but it was straight at Krysiak who gathered well.
Just as the game approached the 60-minute mark, Paul Tisdale opted for a change in formation by withdrawing D’Ath and bringing on John O’Flynn for the Grecians, to partner Cureton up front.
It wasn’t too long before that pairing were involved in a golden opportunity for City to draw level, as O’Flynn chased a ball into the right-hand channel and fed the ball back to Davies. The midfielder’s low, swinging cross found Cureton, but the striker couldn’t hook his shot goalwards and it trickled agonisingly wide.
Jimmy Keohane was introduced as City’s final sub, as Molesley was the man to make way.
And Keohane’s round-the-corner ball from his deep-lying role set O’Flynn on his way towards goal. The Irishman fed his team-mate Cureton, who got the ball out of his feet to curl a shot – but Cole leapt high to collect.
Needing a goal, City were committing men forward and at times had the centre-halves in the opposition half. Danny Coles launched a cross-field ball towards the far post where Kevin Amankwaah was arriving and despite making the first contact with the ball, it bounced up allowing Cole to collect with no Grecians following in.
And as the clock ticked away, Scot Bennett picked up the game’s first yellow as he challenged too heavily with Guy Branston. The Grecians piled forward, but it was ultimately fruitless as Plymouth took the spoils from the derby game.
Full-time: Plymouth Argyle 1 Exeter City 0
Plymouth Argyle: Cole; Blanchard, Wotton, Branston, Bhasera; Gurrieri (Cowan-Hall 77), Cox (Young h-t), Banton (Murray 72), Hourihane, Bryan; Reid.
Subs (not used): Chadwick, Nelson, Gilmartin, Harvey.
Goal: Banton (45+2).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Amankwaah, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Molesley (Keohane 71), Doherty (Gosling h-t), Bennett, Davies; D’Ath (O’Flynn 59); Cureton.
Subs (not used): Evans, Tully, Bauza, Moore Taylor.
Referee: D. Drysdale