Report: Exeter City 0 Wycombe 2
Exeter City were put out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by Wycombe Wanderers, who came out 2-0 winners at St James Park.
The breakthrough for Wycombe came on the half-hour mark as Matt McClure was man released on a swift counter-attack and he slotted home with aplomb.
The game was sealed in the final ten minutes when Anthony Stewart arrived at the back post to head in a cross from his defensive partner Sam Wood.
Under-18 prodigy Matt Jay had been handed squad number 27 for the tie, for his first involvement in the senior competitive setup. Meanwhile captain Danny Coles was rested for the fixture, meaning a place in centre-half for Scot Bennett. He was partnered in the heart of defence by Jordan Moore-Taylor, with Pat Baldwin – wearing the captain’s armband – slotted in at right-back.
Following his two-goal salvo at the weekend, Alan Gow was handed a starting berth against the Chairboys with Sam Parkin leading the line. Jake Gosling was also handed his first start of the campaign, with David Wheeler on the other flank.
The visitors began with some neat passing football and fashioned the first chance of the game within minutes, as a ball squirmed loose into the path of Nick Arnold, but his first-time shot missed by some distance from outside the area.
The Grecians were making their best advances down the flanks, and consecutive crosses by David Wheeler and Gosling were unlucky to come to nothing.
Wycombe certainly looked in the ascendancy in the opening stages and were pinging passes around nicely in the midfield. Despite their neat play, however, City’s defence were holding strong and forcing shots from distance – one by Billy Knott needed strong palms from Artur Krysiak, before Max Kretzschmar shanked one well wide from 30 yards.
With about 20 minutes played, however, City began to click in midfield and were making good inroads in the Wanderers half. A delightful one-two between Gosling and Gow nearly saw the winger released until Kortney Hause intervened just in time.
But despite coming back into the game well, it was City that went behind on the half-hour mark. The game had slowed down a touch again but a sudden burst of energy from Knott saw the visitors win possession in midfield – he laid off into the path of McClure who finished coolly from inside the box.
The Grecians reacted well to going a goal down, however, and it needed 19-year-old stopper Matt Ingram to stretch every sinew to get a fingertip on a superb dipping effort from Gow from a central position, 25 yards from goal.
From the resulting corner, Wheeler was unlucky to be denied by another Ingram save as he rose highest to meet Liam Sercombe’s inswinger.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Wycombe Wanderers 1
Wheeler made way for Matt Grimes at the interval, as Exeter underwent a little reshuffle in midfield. Gow dropped onto the right-hand side with Grimes partnering Sercombe, with Tommy Doherty sitting deep.
It gave City a good platform to build their attacks but Ingram remained largely untested in the opening exchanges. Sam Wood, the Chairboys’ left-back, had been particularly useful in getting back on the cover but he was eventually cautioned for a meaty foul on Gosling.
And it was the ever-lively Knott that had the next chance of note for the Chairboys as he hit a drive from 25 yards, but it took a nick off the shin of Baldwin on its way over the crossbar.
Jay made his debut with around 20 minutes of normal time left to play, and was instantly showing why he has grown a huge reputation on the under-18 circuit. Instantly the attacker picked up the ball and drove at the Wycombe defence, and even a huge tackle by Anthony Stewart didn’t faze the teenager who bounced straight up.
With around 15 minutes to play, Parkin won a freekick around 25 yards from goal – Liam Sercombe stepped up to strike, and it needed a good sprawling save from Ingram to maintain the one-goal advantage.
But it was the visitors who netted their second at the second bite of the cherry. Wood’s initial corner from the left was cleared out, but when it came back to him he delivered to the far post for Stewart to nod in well.
Jay was no more than a foot away from earning a goal on his debut as he controlled a lay-off, dug it out of his feet, and fired a curling effort marginally beyond Ingram’s post.
Wycombe subs Steven Craig could have made it 3-0 as the game ran into stoppage time, but a cross-cum-shot by fellow sub Matt Bloomfield just evaded his outstretched leg and drifted behind.
But it mattered little to the Chairboys who secured passage to the second round.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Exeter City: Krysiak, Woodman, Bennett, Baldwin, Sercombe, Gow (Reid 79), Doherty (Jay 69), Moore-Taylor, Gosling, Parkin, Wheeler (Grimes 46).
Unused subs: Pym, Dawson.
Wycombe Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy (Fletcher 90+2), Stewart, Lewis, Wood, Kuffour, Hause, Kretszchmar (Bloomfield 82), Arnold (Craig 74), Knott, McClure.
Unused subs: Harrison, Morgan.
Goals: McClure (30), Stewart (83).
Attendance: 1,654 (57 away).
Referee: P. Gibbs