Match report: Exeter City 2 Bury 1Exeter City overturned league leaders Bury at St James Park, recording a 2-1 win to make it three wins on the bounce.
An early Matt Grimes free-kick had Exeter off to a flyer, but Tom Soares’ rocket after an hour had the teams all square.
But a close-range effort from substitute Jimmy Keohane with less than ten minutes remaining was the difference at the end, giving Exeter City’s hard-working side a well-earned three points at the Park.
Craig Woodman’s injury kept him out of the matchday squad for the meeting with Bury, while Scot Bennett and Danny Butterfield both return as starters. David Wheeler was also an injury doubt and took a place amongst the substitutes for the clash with the league leaders.
Connor Riley-Lowe was named amongst the substitutes as well for City, while Bury made a single change – former Grecian Daniel Nardiello starts in place of Danny Rose.
Captain Bennett began the game high upfield alongside the strike-force of Alex Nicholls and Graham Cummins, meaning a place at centre-half for the returning Butterfield alongside Jordan Moore-Taylor and Matt Oakley.
The visitors looked lively in attack and were breaking with real pace, but it was hosts Exeter that opened the scoring through a peach of free-kick from midfielder Grimes.
Nicholls, receiving from Arron Davies, turned and drew a foul just outside the area. And the 19-year-old hit a sweet free-kick that left goalkeeper Rob Lainton totally stranded to give City a fifth-minute lead.
Things just weren’t quite sticking for the Shakers, with things just squirming away at the last whenever they tried to play forward. When Ryan Lowe did manage to pick out Nicky Adams, the Bury man miscued and hit the ball into his own face.
After a prolonged spell of pressure from City, Davies came close to doubling the lead – he was set up on the left, he powered a shot with his laces that just flashed across goal and wide.
Bury began to show their attacking prowess and Nardiello was a key part of that. Just onside, he cut back for Danny Mayor but the Shakers man fluffed his effort.
Nardiello and Lowe then both tested the palms of Pym with shots, but the stopper was twice well-placed to pull out crucial saves.
At the other end, some smart build-up down the left from Cummins and Grimes allowed the latter to send in a low cross from the byline – Pablo Mills was just positioned well enough to just edge out Nicholls and prevent a tap-in from inside the six-yard box.
Play was stopped for an extended period before the break – Pym dived in at the feet of Lowe – who, unbeknownst to the stopper had already been flagged offside – and came out with a head injury. After a few minutes receiving treatment, the stopper was able to continue.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 Bury 0
Pym appeared unfazed after his early injury and was alive to twice pick off dangerous Shakers crosses in the early exchanges after the break.
After defending deep to begin, City did muster some attacks – Cummins’ laid in Sercombe on the left flank, and a cut-back found Nicholls in space – he just hesitated with his shot and a block came in. From the resultant corner, Moore-Taylor headed wide.
However the scores were back on par when midfielder Soares cut in from the left and wound up a firecracker of a shot with his right boot, which nestled inside the near post to level things up with an hour played.
City continued to come under a lot of pressure but could have retaken the lead soon after conceding. Breaking from the centre, Nicholls showed smart feet to work it onto his left and rasped an effort which Lainton parried away. On the follow-up, Cummins thrashed just wide.
Pym and the defence were defending heroically and the stopper needed to be alert to save low from Mayor, who had wormed into the box on the left.
But with less than ten minutes remaining, Keohane put Exeter back in front. A deep free-kick from Grimes was headed into the danger area by Moore-Taylor – stopper Lainton spilled the ball under pressure from substitute Tom Nichols, and fellow sub Keohane was alert to turn in from close range.
As the game ticked into the three added minutes, sub Rose had a chance to level from a cross into the area but headed over Pym’s bar.
It was the final action of note as the Grecians saw out the game to record a third win on the spin.
Full-time: Exeter City 2 Bury 1
Exeter City: Pym; Ribeiro, Butterfield (Nichols 72), Oakley, Moore-Taylor Davies; Grimes, Sercombe; Nicholls, Bennett; Cummins (Keohane 72).
Subs: Hamon, Dawson, Wheeler, Riley-Lowe, Tillson.
Goal: Grimes (5), Keohane (82).
Bury: Lainton; Cameron, Mills (Platt 89), McNulty, Jones, Soares, Etuhu, Mayor; Adams (Holmes 46), Lowe, Nardiello (Rose 56).
Subs: Jalal, Tutte, Hussey, Sedgwick.
Goal: Soares (59).
Attendance: 3,215 (254 away).
Referee: Stuart Atwell