Extraordinary finish wrecks City fightback at SJPLine-Ups
Exeter City: Olejnik, Woodman, Oakley (Watkins 60’), Davies, Holmes, Nicholls, Moore-Taylor (capt), Reid (Morrison 60’), Nichols, Tillson, Grant.
Subs: McAllister, Oyeleke, Hamon, McCready, Egan.
Goals: Nichols 71’, Nicholls 82’
Luton Town: Tyler, Cuthbert, Lawless, McGeehan, Benson, Green (Marriott 90’), Okuonghae, Lee, Long, Mackail-Smith (McQuoid 72’), Howells (Griffiths 65’).
Subs: Justham, Guttridge, Justin, Musonda.
Goals: McGeehan (pen) 30’, Green 34’, Benson 90+9’
Referee: Andy Davies
A 99TH-MINUTE winner for visiting Luton spoilt a spirited Exeter fightback.
City made two changes from the side that beat Port Vale in the FA Cup, with Matt Oakley making his first start since the draw with Stevenage back in October. Tom Nichols was also recalled, with Troy Brown and David Wheeler both absent with injury.
Craig Woodman was involved in City’s first significant venture forward as he delivered a lovely cross which Alex Nicholls did well to control and poke towards Jamie Reid, who dummied and allowed Joel Grant to have a shot. City’s striker couldn’t find a way past a combination of Scott Cuthbert and Magnus Okuonghae.
Just like Luton’s first real opportunity, City’s came about as a result of a mistake. Some mistakes in the Luton backline allowed a waiting Alex Nicholls to seize on the loose ball. A clever one-two with Joel Grant opened up some shooting space for Nicholls, but his shot was fantastically saved by a flying Mark Tyler.
A spell of sustained pressure from City then followed, with Joel Grant’s scuffed shot turned round the post by the Luton defence and a drive from Jamie Reid blocked by Alex Lawless for a corner. City were unable to make anything from either corner though as Luton continued to defend impressively.
It was Luton though that broke the deadlock. Sean Long got forward from full-back and linked well with Craig Mackail-Smith before the breaking into the box and eventually being fouled by Craig Woodman. Cameron McGeehan stepped up to take the spot-kick and put it low into the bottom-left corner of the goal.
City barely had time to settle back into the game before Luton had themselves a second. Sean Long was again involved this time, delivering a delightful ball which evaded everyone apart from Danny Green, who calmly tucked the ball away to put the visitors 2-0 up.
HALF-TIME: EXETER CITY 0-2 LUTON TOWN
The Hatters went in search of a third in the second period and almost found it when some shaky City defending saw a back-pass picked off by Craig Mackail-Smith. The experienced forward pulled it back to Cameron McGeehan, whose shot was blocked and sent looping narrowly wide of City’s left-hand post. The resulting corner was delivered by Danny Green and the ball was met by a powerful header from an unmarked Paul Benson, but fortunately for Exeter it went narrowly wide.
Sub Ollie Watkins would find City a way back into the game; a marauding run from the half-way line saw him brought down right on the edge of Luton’s box. Tom Nichols was the man to step up, and guided a fantastic free-kick into the top-right corner of the goal, leaving Mark Tyler with little chance.
The Grecians then enjoyed another spell of pressure and they would reap the rewards. A corner was whipped in by Lee Holmes and Alex Nicholls somehow managed to guide the ball into Tyler’s net with a powerful header.
With nine minutes added on partly as a result of an injury to one of the assistant referees, Josh McQuoid led the Hatters on the three-on-one charge, but it only resulted in Bobby Olejnik making a superb save to keep City in it.
With the game looking likely to finish 2-2, a second of uncertainty allowed Jack Marriott to collect a loose ball on City's dead ball line. His cross was deflected by a City player towards Olejnik, and with the goalkeeper making the catch, he and the ball were bundled into the net. Referee Andy Davies saw no reason to blow his whistle, so City's marvellous fightback had come to nothing in a moment of dumbfoundedness.
FULL-TIME: EXETER CITY 2-3 LUTON TOWN
Attendance: 3,777 (416 away)
Man of the Match: Jordan Moore-Taylor