Report: Northampton 1 Exeter City 2
John O’Flynn scored a stoppage-time winner for the Grecians as they triumphed 2-1 at Sixfields against Northampton Town.
The home side had started on the front-foot, with Leicester loanee Jacob Blyth slotting in after just six minutes.
It could have been two when his strike-partner Clive Platt was unlucky to hit the bar with a thunderous strike.
But Scot Bennett drew level before the break as he got on the end of a corner – and City sub John O’Flynn was on hand in the three added minutes to head home a cross and send the 258 travelling home happy.
City manager Paul Tisdale made just a single alteration to his starting line-up ahead of the Northampton Town clash, following last weekend’s draw away ay Dagenham.
Jimmy Keohane comes into the starting XI, with Matt Grimes the man to take a seat on the bench. Striker John O’Flynn also returns from injury but begins the game on the bench.
For the hosts, last season’s Exeter man Kevin Amankwaah started at right-back and former Grecians loanee Chris Hackett also began on the right flank.
Northampton started the livelier and saw the most of the ball in the early exchanges. Former City players Chris Hackett and Kevin Amankwaah were causing the early threat down the Cobblers’ left-flank and the latter delivered a left-footed cross into the six-yard box within a minute, which was dealt with well by Scot Bennett.
And despite a quick break by the Grecians and a few attempts to get the ball down, the Grecians were trailing with just over five minutes played. It was a direct ball upfield that released Blyth, who latched onto the ball, ran at Artur Krysiak and poked coolly past the stopper.
Exeter were hoping to react instantly and a fine cross-field ball from Alan Gow found Arron Davies on the left flank – the winger worked some space with the dummy run of Craig Woodman and his cross just evaded the stooping head of Sam Parkin.
The Cobblers were using the route-one approach with regularity and with some success. Plenty of threat was coming down the flanks too and Blyth came within a few yards of doubling Northampton’s lead as he powered an Amankwaah cross just wide.
With two hurly-burly strikers in Blyth and Clive Platt, the Cobblers continued to pump aerial balls into the area and a flick-on by the latter caused chaos for City. The ball got tangled in Danny Coles’ legs and Blyth tried to profit, only to see his first-time shot travel a matter of inches wide.
After impressing from the bench against Dagenham last weekend, Keohane was looking to put another good performance together and was twice unlucky to be denied chances. Firstly he was flagged offside after a neat dink through by Gow, and second time round he couldn’t generate any power into a left-footed effort after picking a ball out of the air beautifully.
Platt was within the width of the crossbar from earning a second for Northampton, as he smashed a bouncing ball on the turn. It hit the horizontal, bounced off the back of the City stopper, and Krysiak collected.
But after withstanding a lot of early pressure, the Grecians soon found themselves level thanks to a set-piece goal. Some neat play down the right flank earned Exeter a corner, which Craig Woodman whipped over – Parkin attacked first but it squirmed through to Bennett, who poked into the bottom corner to draw the visitors back level.
The remainder of the half was played with a bit of needle. Both sides had names taken by the referee – Darren Carter managed to talk himself into the book after a midfield collision, whilst Woodman was penalised for a cynical foul on the wing against Hackett.
Half-time: Northampton Town 1 Exeter City 1
Former Exeter man Hackett didn’t take long to get involved after the interval, and he was fed by Platt to shoot from wide and it needed a great block from Woodman to prevent Krysiak from being called into action.
The Grecians were looking to break quickly whenever they got an opportunity, and Keohane was unlucky to not be able to pull the trigger. Keohane passed to Gow on centre spot and continued his run – the Scotsman dinked into the path of the Irishman and it needed a lung-busting run by Lee Collins to put in the tackle before the shot came in.
Liam Sercombe was the next to fashion an effort for the Grecians – he needed no invitation to hit a dipping effort, which had Matt Duke concerned on the way past the post.
An already-physical game was becoming more and more fiercely contested as time passed and the Cobblers remained keen to be quick and direct with their play. A swirling ball forward by Matty Harriott, just on as a sub, was perfectly into the path of Platt and it needed a brilliant Krysiak save to keep the scores level.
Northampton’s threat up top meant City had to rely on countering, and Davies was the man to come in off the left flank and shoot, but his shot was sliced and missed the target by a distance.
The Grecians had a late chance to win it when David Wheeler, on as a sub, swung a ball forward from deep into the path of Parkin who reacted first – he rounded Duke but Collins was back to clear the shot off the line.
But the winner did follow through a Wheeler cross – Davies picked a fine ball to the right flank, and Wheeler waited for the run from fellow sub O’Flynn and delivered a delightful ball, which the Irishman nodded in from six yards for a stoppage-time goal.
Full-time: Northampton Town 1 Exeter City 2
Northampton Town: Duke; Amankwaah (Tozer 79), Collins, Heath, Widdowson; Hackett, Carter (Harriott 68), Deegan, O’Donovan (Emerton 79); Blyth, Platt.
Subs: McNamara, Morris, Hooper, Toney.
Goal: Blyth (6).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Baldwin, Bennett, Coles, Woodman; Sercombe, Keohane (Wheeler 82), Oakley; Davies, Gow (O’Flynn 73), Parkin.
Subs: Pym, Doherty, Moore-Taylor, Dawson, Reid.
Goal: Bennett (35), O’Flynn (90).
Attendance: 4,036 (258 away)
Referee: R. Lewis