Report: Peterborough 2 Exeter City 0
Exeter City’s FA Cup campaign was ended for another season at the hands of Peterborough United, who were 2-0 victors at London Road.
City were good with and without the ball, but two goals in the space of seven minutes by Britt Assombalonga and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing sealed a Posh win.
The Grecians were creative and dynamic with the ball but couldn’t quite dissect through the home defence, and Peterborough had the killer instinct to pick off City when the chances came.
Alan Gow was the most notable absentee for the Grecians, missing out on the matchday squad completely. Jake Gosling – who had a noteworthy involvement in last year’s FA Cup first round as a loanee at Dorchester, returned to the bench.
Matt Gill made his first start for Exeter since his return on loan from Bristol Rovers against his hometown club, while Peterborough’s Friday morning loan signing, Hogan Ephraim of Queens Park Rangers, was on the bench for the home side.
The Posh were first to threaten, with the clock barely ticking past 3pm. Wing-back Mark Little hung up a cross for Tyrone Barnett to leap at and head goalwards, which needed batting away by Artur Krysiak.
While City were containing well and looking comfortable in possession against their League 1 hosts, it was the home side that had the more of the threat around the penalty area. Two wasted free-kicks by the Posh were aggravating for the home fans, and a Chris Alcock effort was blocked and looped into the arms of Krysiak.
City were posing a typical counter-attacking threat and an advance down the right flank by Arron Davies, who began as a wing-back, was just beyond the reach of Parkin who was muscled out.
Centre-forward Barnett was the chief threat for the hosts as his athleticism and movement were making life difficult for the centre-halves. A towering header from the forward drew a great low save by Krysiak, but the Polish stopper was relieved to see a curling shot from Bennett fly just beyond the post shortly after.
Tommy Doherty picked up his fifth yellow of the season as he mistimed a lunging tackle on Kgosi Nthle outside the City area, and while the Grecians were concentrating chiefly on defending the goal, they did create occasional threats – Gill’s left-footed volley from outside the area had Bobby Olejnik concerned, but it missed wide left.
Half-time: Peterborough United 0 Exeter City 0
John O’Flynn was introduced at the interval in place of Doherty who, as well as having been booked, had also gotten through an exhaustive level of work in the first period.
With two attacking switches at the same time by Darren Ferguson, Grecians boss Paul Tisdale didn’t change the defensive shape and continued with a five-man defence.
The Grecians were providing much more of an obvious threat after the interval and were holding onto the ball superbly in the Posh half of the field. At times, goalkeeper Krysiak was the only player in the City half as Exeter pushed up numbers.
Ephraim was a threat on the counter, and in particular looked lively after picking up the ball in his own half from a misplaced City pass and sprinting acres downfield to switch things around.
Liam Sercombe and Davies had chances come and go within moments – the former seeing a shot blocked when he might have instead slipped in O’Flynn, and the latter looping an effort over the narrowly crossbar.
But for all City’s impact, it was Assombalonga that was on the spot to turn in a Little cross right underneath the crossbar as the wing-back delivered a perfect centre.
And with the Grecians committing men forward, spaces appeared at the back and Mendez-Laing exploited that as he was fed low in the box and drilled back across Krysiak’s goal and into the net.
Assombalonga could have sealed the victory but dragged an effort wide after being released on the counter, and sub Tom Nichols swiped a bouncing ball over the bar. Davies’ late effort was firm but collected well by Olejnik as the Posh earned a place in the second round.
Full-time: Peterborough United 2 Exeter City 0
Peterborough United: Olejnik; Alcock, Nthle, Brisley, Bostwick; Little, Swanson (Ephraim), Payne (Conlon), Newell, Nthle; Barnett (Mendez-Laing), Assombalonga.
Subs (not used): Day, Zakuani, Anderson, Jeffers.
Goals: Assombalonga (72), Mendez-Laing (79).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Bennett, Coles, Baldwin (Nichols), Woodman; Sercombe, Doherty (O’Flynn), Gill (Wheeler), Grimes, Davies; Parkin.
Subs (not used): Pym, Moore-Taylor, Gosling, Keohane.
Referee: G. Salisbury