Match report: Burton 1 Exeter City 0Exeter City’s wait for a first win of 2014/15 continued at the Pirelli Stadium, as Burton Albion – whose perfect start continued with a fourth win – were 1-0 victors.
It was a goal before the break by Stuart Beavon that ultimately made the difference on the scoresheet, volleying in from inside the area past an otherwise infallible Christy Pym.
Exeter exerted everything in the final throes and came close to snatching a late equaliser as Graham Cummins almost got onto a spill by a Jon McLaughlin, but it wasn’t to be for the Grecians.
After playing for 45 minutes against Plymouth Argyle, striker Cummins made his first start for Exeter City at the fulcrum of the Grecian attack, replacing the injured Tom Nichols who missed out on the squad completely.
Meanwhile the Brewers began life without Billy Kee, who was sold to Scunthorpe earlier in the week after brace against Dagenham on Saturday.
Within the first two minutes, a lively Brewers side could twice have taken the lead through John Mousinho. The midfielder twice tested stopper Christy Pym with volleys. The first was a snapshot and a reaction save after Lucas Akins’ shot was deflected, and the second followed a corner but was down the goalie’s throat.
City quickly grew into the game and began to fashion chances. Liam Sercombe stabbed a ball forward for Cummins to chest into the path of countryman Jimmy Keohane, whose effort was blocked.
Then Cummins was gifted a chance to open his account with Exeter as Robbie Weir’s header, meant for his goalkeeper, was intercepted by the former Rochdale man. However custodian Jon McLaughlin was off his line in a flash to smother the chance.
Pym was being called upon with some regularity, and had to be alert when Akins lashed a half-volley from the edge of the City area after a cross was only partially cleared.
But the save of the half again came from an Akins effort – right-back Phil Edwards hung up a ball for the midfielder who towered above the Exeter defence, and somehow clawed a looping header out of the postage stamp and away for a corner.
However Pym was finally beaten five minutes before the half-time whistle came. Alex MacDonald’s long throw into the area was headed away by Matt Oakley, only to find the onrushing Beavon to lash into the bottom corner.
Half-time: Burton Albion 1 Exeter City 0
Burton controlled the opening exchanges in the second half and captain Ian Sharps, still up from centre-half after a corner routine, was the latest to hit a half-volley to test Pym.
The introduction of David Wheeler on the hour-mark, coming on for Keohane, made a difference to the approach and City started to look more potent again. Cummins was released by a ball over the top but couldn’t quite release a shot before a block came in.
Clear chances were at a premium, and some strong tackling and niggling fouls prevented any element of flow emerging to the game.
With ten minutes remaining, captain Scot Bennett was moved into the City forward line to try and rescue a point at the Pirelli. Soon after, midfielder Matt Grimes were presented with an opportunity to shoot as the Brewers defence parted but he got under the shot.
Ollie Watkins was put into action for the final five minutes and Exeter were inches away from an equaliser. Bennett headed into the danger zone and McLaughlin spilled his catch, only for the ball to squirm away from Cummins.
City continued to power forward and Bennett’s clever back-heel to Wheeler almost allowed the sub to cut back, but it was intercepted as Burton saw out the win.
Full-time: Burton Albion 1 Exeter City 0
Burton Albion: McLaughlin; Edwards, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, McFadzean; Akins, Mousinho, Weir, MacDonald; Beavon, Knowles (Harness 80).
Unused subs: Lyness, Taft, McGurk, Palmer, Slade, Austin.
Goal: Beavon (41).
Exeter City: Pym; Butterfield, Baldwin, Bennett, Tillson (Watkins 86), Woodman; Sercombe, Oakley, Grimes; Keohane (Wheeler 60); Cummins.
Unused subs: Hamon, Davies, Dawson, Jay, Pope.
Referee: Mark Heywood