Grecians defeated in final pre-season friendlyA pre-season visit from the Gulls saw Exeter City defeated 2-0 in the final friendly at St James Park before the beginning of the season.
Goals by Ryan Bowman and Jordan Chapell separated the sides in what turned out to be a gloriously sun-kissed afternoon at the park.
Trialists Graham Cummins and Christian Ribeiro both started alongside under-18 midfielder Alex Byrne, with Matt Oakley starting with the captain’s armband.
Meanwhile, Torquay fielded new signing and recent goal-scorer Louis Briscoe. United’s new addition scored a stunning 25-yard volley on Tuesday night but couldn’t prevent the Gulls losing to Weymouth 3-1.
The match also saw the return of former Exeter academy player Martin Rice to St James Park; best remembered for his heroics against Oxford in the 2007 play-off semi-final shoot-out.
It was clear during the opening minutes that Torquay were looking to test their attacking prowess, and seemed keen to show some of their newly acquired power and pace going forward.
Torquay's new signings, Louis Briscoe and Ryan Bowman, making their presence felt early in the game but their shots well blocked by Grecians Aaron Dawson and Danny Coles. It was clear early on that the Gull's might present a challenge to some Conference defences in the coming season, but the final product seemed allusive.
However, United’s attacking style in the opening half did allow the Grecians to test their defensive line, and the combination of Craig Woodman, Danny Butterfield and Coles held firm, only looking truly exposed in the 33rd minute. A Benyon lay off saw the pitch just open up for Briscoe on the right and, had his shot just been just a little lower, we could have seen our first goal of the afternoon.
Exeter did respond, and trialist Graham Cummins really made his presence felt in the opening quarter. He worked the channels well and was a powerful physical presence in the centre of the park. Christy Pym also made some good saves under pressure, especially responding with a low save to his left in response to a decent Benyon strike in the 15th minute.
Two strikes on target from Jimmy Keohane did show some of City’s potential going forward.
The first saw Aaron Dawson play a fine ball across the park that was picked up and driven forward by the Irishman. He let fire just outside the box but was denied by the gloves of Rice, who pulled off an excellent save. The second saw Keohane running into the box and letting fly, however, again saved by Rice.
The run into half-time did present some tense moments for the home side but Pym’s safe hands and Exeter’s defensive lines held firm.
Half time: Exeter City 0 Torquay United 0
As with the nature of friendlies, the momentum of the second half was broken up by substitutions. The Grecian’s only change during the break saw Byrne give way to Pat Baldwin. Throughout the half, City and United both fielded multiple changes, with youngsters Matt Jay and Ollie Watkins appearing for Exeter.
But straight from the restart both sides seemed to increase their intensity, but Exeter City showing the greater composure. Within minutes of the referee's whistle, Bowden received a firm word from referee for an altercation with Aaron Dawson and the Gulls had received the first and only caution of the match, with the referee showing Angus MacDonald a yellow for a cynical challenge on Graham Cummins.
The deadlock was broken in the 60th minute when Torquay new-boy Ryan Bowman slotted home a Briscoe cross. There were some shouts of offside from the home fans, but the linesman’s flag stayed down. Both of the gull’s summer signings having some input in the goal and perhaps foreshadowing the potential they possess for the coming season.
At times Exeter did look threatening going forward. Trialist Christian Ribeiro made some delightful runs down the flanks, and on one such occasion, crossing to Jimmy Keohane whose shot was only denied by a clearance off the Torquay goal line. An Aaron Dawson tackle on the edge of his box also gave the Grecians opportunity to breakaway but in this instance, coming to nothing.
It was an excellent strike from Jordan Chapell in the 82nd minute saw the visitors double their tally and close out the game.
Exeter did not concede to the inevitable. In the closing minutes of the game, a Matt Grimes shot, curled from the edge of the box, going just inches wide of the woodwork.
The final result may be seen by many to be deceptive here. Exeter played with far-more composure and poise in the second half, but were beaten by a lively and energetic Torquay side. The Gull’s may have Lazy Jack’s on the back of their shirts, but they were far from lazy today.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 Torquay United 2
Exeter City: Pym (Hamon 82); Dawson (Tillson 77), Coles (Pope 72), Butterfield, Ribeiro, Woodman (Riley-Lowe 80); Byrne (Baldwin 45), Grimes, Oakley (Watkins 72); Keohane (Jay 77), Cummins (Nichols 56).
Unused sub: Wheeler.
Torquay United: Rice; Tonge (Thompson 82), Downes, MacDonald (Hutchings 82), Cruise; Cameron (Ayala 72), Young (Chaney 72), Harding (Richards 72), Briscoe (Chapell 65); Benyon (Sullivan 65), Bowman (O’Achie 65).
Unused sub: Seabright.
Goals: Bowman (60) Chapell (82).
Attendance: 1,346 (186 away)
Referee: Steve Bratt