Report: Exeter City 0 Northampton 1
It was another home disappointment for Exeter City as they went down 1-0 at St James Park to fellow strugglers Northampton Town.
Chris Wilder’s side scored the game’s only goal in the second half through a well-taken finish by substitute Ian Morris, the Irishman’s first touch since coming on.
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale named a completely unchanged starting line-up to face Chris Wilder’s Northampton Town tonight at St James Park.
Both the Grecians’ starting XI and the bench looked the same as they were for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Dagenham & Redbridge, and that meant Scot Bennett made his 100th appearance in an Exeter City shirt, some achievement for the 23-year-old defender.
Cobblers boss Wilder made three alterations to his eleven which drew at high-flying Scunthorpe: former Grecian Chris Hackett, Emile Sinclair and Brighton loanee Ben Dickenson coming in for Alan Connell, Morris and the suspended Ricky Ravenhill.
David Wheeler had a golden opportunity to put the Grecians in front in the game’s first chance after eight minutes. Some great forward play from Sam Parkin saw him deliver a dangerous cross across the face of goal on the turn – it eluded the stretching Tom Nichols but reached Wheeler at the far post, the young winger side-footing into the side-netting, and his exasperation afterwards indicating that he felt he should have done better. Wheeler tried to make amends by whipping a great ball from the right moments later that was just crying out for a head to attack it, but unfortunately for the Grecians none came.
Down the other end Artur Krysiak was quick on his feet to confidently collect a Ben Dickenson cross from the Northampton left. On the whole Krysiak wasn’t truly tested in the first 20 minutes, with former Torquay striker John Marquis finding difficulty keeping himself on the right side of the last Exeter defender. Matt Oakley’s close-range shot was blocked after he was delivered a flick from Parkin, before the first chance for the visitors came and went as Emile Sinclair fired over from a tight angle.
Tom Nichols just couldn’t find the space to shoot as he twisted and turned in the penalty area, and then headed a corner wide moments later. The young striker had a shot blocked with two minutes of first-half normal time to go, while the Grecians had one last half-chance, as David Wheeler’s header escaped the grasp of Mathias Kouo-Doumbé but never made its way to the waiting Sam Parkin.
Half-time: Exeter City 0 Northampton Town 0
Ben Dickenson had a case for a penalty when he went down under a challenge early in the second period, but referee Steve Bratt wasn’t convinced – then Sam Parkin’s centre was just out of the reach of Matt Grimes moments after.
Krysiak took a knock to the head under the challenge of Marquis after Sinclair had threaded a very dangerous ball behind the Grecians’ backline, but the City goalkeeper was okay to continue. Sinclair went down under a challenge from Krysiak soon after, but Bratt only awarded a goal-kick
Northampton manager Chris Wilder made a double-substitution just over ten minutes into the second half, with Morris and Connell replacing Dickenson and Marquis – and it took no time at all for Morris to make his mark, as former Grecian Hackett produced an excellent cross from the right and the Irishman converted via a bounce, his first touch since joining the action.
Having gone one-down shortly before the hour-mark, the Grecians had to contend with another Cobblers effort, as captain Darren Carter shot over from 20 yards. Craig Woodman hit one wide on the volley before Paul Tisdale sent Eliot Richards on in place of Sam Parkin. Liam Sercombe couldn’t direct his effort goalwards at the culmination of an Exeter break, and Matt Duke plucked a Jordan Moore-Taylor cross out of the air midway through the second period.
Krysiak made a good save low to his right from Darren Carter as the game entered its final 20 minutes, before Jamie Reid replaced David Wheeler. Matt Oakley had a shot go wide at the beginning of the game’s final ten minutes, before David Moyo replaced Sinclair in the final Northampton substitution. After an extended period of Exeter pressure, Richards fired over in injury time as Exeter City fell to a disappointing defeat.
Full-time: Exeter City 0 Northampton Town 1
Exeter City: Krysiak; Bennett, Coles, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Wheeler (Reid 74), Oakley, Grimes, Sercombe; Nichols, Parkin (Richards 61).
Unused subs: Hamon, Butterfield, Baldwin, Davies, Gill.
Northampton Town: Duke, McSweeney, Diamond, Kouo-Doumbé, Robertson, Hackett, Deegan, Carter, Dickenson (Morris 54), Marquis (Connell 54), Sinclair (Moyo 83).
Unused subs: Snedker, Tozer, Roberts, Toney, Moyo.
Goal: Morris (56).
Attendance: 2,785 (150 away).
Referee: S. Bratt