Report: York City 2 Exeter City 1
Exeter City were defeated 2-1 at Bootham Crescent, as they couldn't quite manage the comeback against hosts York City.
The hosts went into the interval with a 2-1 lead, as John McCombe headed the opener and Michael Coulson drilled in a loose ball before Scot Bennett pegged a goal back from close range.
And despite City’s commitment to attack in the second period, the scoreline remained unchanged at full-time as York saw out the win. On two occasions the hosts were forced to hack off their own goal-line and John O'Flynn hit the base of the post, but the Grecians couldn’t find that important second goal.
After recovering from injury, stopper Artur Krysiak was back amongst the starters with Christy Pym taking a seat on the bench. Scot Bennett began at right-back with captain Danny Coles recalled after a knee problem, partnering Jordan Moore-Taylor at centre-half, and with one eye on the midweek game against Burnley in the Under-21 Premier League Cup, Matt Grimes began on the bench.
David Wheeler was not included amongst the matchday 18, while Jimmy Keohane began the game behind striker John O’Flynn. Jamie Reid’s inclusion on the bench, having through a midweek reserve game, meant that he was in line for a first City appearance since September, after suffering a groin problem on international duty.
City’s first opportunity came within a minute as O’Flynn won a foul 35 yards from goal. Matt Gill dinked a ball into the danger area, which just evaded O’Flynn as he tried to volley as it dropped over his shoulder.
York began to work their way into the game as Russell Penn and Keith Lowe both had efforts, neither of which troubled the returning Krysiak.
But the hosts, who had looked increasingly threatening in the early stages, broke the deadlock just after the quarter-hour mark. Moore-Taylor had done well initially to block out Coulson’s effort from a narrow angle after being laid in by Will Hayhurst, but from the resultant corner McCombe rose to meet a well-flighted ball to the back post and headed York into the lead.
Keohane tried to respond early on and won a free-kick with some neat feet that caused the York defence to bundle him over. The Irish attacker took the set-piece himself but couldn’t get enough dip on his effort.
Instead it was City that were left picking the ball out of the net a second time. Hayhurst won a free-kick on the left-hand touchline, and when the ball was only half-cleared, striker Coulson collected, shimmied, and hammered a left-footed drive across goal and into the net.
But the Grecians cut the lead back down to one within two minutes – and for the third time in the game, the goal came from a set-piece scenario. It was Moore-Taylor that did well to win the initial aerial battle, and his defensive partner Bennett was the man alive to the situation to hook in right-footed inside the six-yard box.
City were working their way back into the game and were desperately unlucky not to find the leveller. Coles sought out the forward run of Sercombe on the right with a raking ball – the midfielder beat goalkeeper Nick Pope to the ball and stabbed across the face of goal, but O’Flynn was denied a tap-in at the far post with a well-timed recovery challenge.
Half-time: York City 2 Exeter City 1
Sercombe was trying to provide a goal-threat from midfield early in the second half and was unlucky to not quite have the chance to pull the trigger after dancing through the defence with neat footwork.
Soon after he did manage to get a shot away – it was a neat ball into him from Matt Oakley, who had in turn received a smart pass from Bennett, that allowed him time and space to get an effort on goal. The driven effort had power but cleared the bar by a yard.
The travelling contingent was sure that the equaliser was there when the ball broke to O’Flynn in the box. Keohane had tried to thread a ball through to the striker, and Lanre Oyebanjo conspired to rake his studs over the top of the ball and could only divert into O’Flynn’s path – and from six yards, he struck across goal and against the base of the post.
Substitute Tom Nichols showed fine bit of footwork and awareness to get into the area from down the inside-left channel – and when he got to the byline, it needed a hacked clearance away to retain the lead.
Keohane volleyed an effort just wide as it dropped out the sky, and the man that replaced him – Eliot Richards – was just denied a chance to shoot on the turn after O’Flynn’s drilled volley from a tight angle was parried in his direction.
The Grecians continued to put pressure on the Minstermen’s goal right until the last – with Scot Bennett played as a fourth striker – but the hosts kept Exeter at bay through the four added minutes to claim the win.
Full-time: York City 2 Exeter City 1
York City: Pope; Oyebanjo, Lowe, McCombe, Davies; Carson, Penn, Reed (Platt 88), Hayhurst (Jarvis 70); Coulson, Bowman (Montrose 75).
Subs: McGurk, Ingham, Dickinson, Puri.
Goals: McCombe (17), Coulson (27).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Bennett, Moore-Taylor, Coles, Woodman; Sercombe, Oakley, Gill (Grimes 59), Davies (Nichols 70); Keohane (Richards 77), O’Flynn.
Subs: Pym, Butterfield, Reid, Parkin.
Goal: Bennett (29).
Attendance: 3,212 (220 away).
Referee: R. Clark