Match report: Tranmere 1 Exeter City 2Exeter City made it two wins from two with a 2-1 win away at Prenton Park against Tranmere Rovers.
Graham Cummins’ third goal in as many games got Exeter up and running in the early stages, and only a late flag denied him a second in the opening stages.
Danny Holmes netted a deflected effort in the first period, but it was up to defender Jordan Moore-Taylor to power in a headed winner midway through the second half.
Paul Tisdale made just one change to his side for the Grecians visit to Tranmere Rovers following a midweek win in Cambridge. Captain Scot Bennett, who sustained a knee injury at the Abbey Stadium, dropped out of the matchday squad to be replaced by Christian Ribeiro in the starting XI, with Matt Oakley named as skipper for the afternoon.
Former Exeter City assistant Rob Edwards named Eliot Richards and Matt Gill – themselves former Grecians – amongst his starters.
A frenetic start saw both defences put under pressure, and the forward trio of Cummins, David Wheeler and Alex Nicholls were forcing the issue.
Marc Laird was the first to register a shot, but his effort from outside the area was blocked well by the body of Jordan Moore-Taylor.
City’s early pressure resulted in the game’s opening goal. A big ball forward for Wheeler saw the wide-man loft a shot over the head of goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams – the stopper could only get a fingertip to the ball, and Cummins was alive to follow the ball and nod in from close range.
Tranmere tried to respond immediately through Abdulai Bell-Baggie, but the forward’s powerful effort was gathered by Christy Pym well. Richards then forced a great save from Pym as he came in off the left.
Matt Grimes again was dictating the midfield tempo and a smart first-time cross on the volley from the left found Liam Sercombe at the back post, but he could only hit the side netting on the stretch.
Cummins looked to have scored his and City’s second when Grimes’ shot was deflected into his path, and he rounded Fon Williams to find the net. However as the City players were celebrating, a late flag from the assistant cut the jubilations short.
And just minutes later Tranmere were back on terms in scrappy fashion – the ball was worked towards Holmes outside the area, and his right-footed effort ricocheted beyond the despairing dive of Pym in the City goal.
Tranmere, who had until their goal been subdued, suddenly began to enjoy more possession and almost took the lead when Bell-Baggie struck a first-time shot from Max Power’s cut-back from the byline, only to drag his effort wide.
Richards was then found on the other flank by Bell-Baggie and lashed at his left-footed strike from 12 yards, clearing the frame of the goal.
Riding the storm, Exeter twice came close before the break through Wheeler, both times from Craig Woodman’s deliveries. He stretched a leg at a cross behind the defence for the first and just diverted wide, before rising to head a hanging delivery – again, just past the post.
Half-time: Tranmere Rovers 1 Exeter City 1
Tranmere looked to take the lead for the first time in the opening exchanges after the break, and captain Max Power got plenty behind his strike but nailed it straight at Pym. Moments later Sercombe chanced his arm from 25 yards, only for a deflection to take the ball over.
Cummins had the ball in the net for a third time in the afternoon when Arron Davies’ low cross was scuffed in at the near post, but the linesman again flagged his attempt offside – in more timely fashion on this occasion.
Sercombe then sent in a cross towards the far stick from the left which Cummins volleyed against the post, only to see the flag raised again.
Rovers sub Jason Koumas was looking to exert some influence on the game with his passing from midfield, and he also lined up a shot from outside the area on his left which was dragged past the post.
However the pendulum swung back in Exeter’s favour midway through the second period when Moore-Taylor grabbed the second goal of his Grecians career. After City sub Jimmy Keohane had won a free-kick on the left, Grimes delivered a perfect free-kick for the centre-half to power in a header from six yards.
Cummins had a golden chance to make it secure for City when Sercombe delivered a fine cross to the far post from the right, but the striker got his connection wrong and nodded wide.
With Tranmere chasing the game, City were having to defend deep and Pym was relieved to see a free-kick from 25 yards by Koumas flash just wide of his post.
But the Grecians did manage to hold on, and secured a second away win in the course of a week as they saw out the three added minutes.
Full-time: Tranmere Rovers 1 Exeter City 2
Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams; Holmes, Donacien, Ihiekwe, Davies; Power, Gill (Koumas 61), Laird; Richards (Odejayi 57), Stockton (Donnelly 57), Bell-Baggie.
Unused subs: Holness, Rowe, Fanimo, Brezovan.
Goal: Holmes (25).
Exeter City: Pym; Davies, Ribeiro, Oakley, Moore-Taylor, Woodman (Keohane 64); Grimes, Sercombe, Wheeler (Butterfield 68), Nicholls; Cummins (Nichols 81).
Unused subs: Hamon, Dawson, Noble, Tillson.
Goal: Cummins (6), Moore-Taylor (69).
Referee: Mick Russell