Exeter City 2 Mansfield Town 0: Match report
Two goals from Ollie Watkins gave Exeter City a 2-0 win over Mansfield Town at St James Park.
The City youngster finished well in both halves to give the Grecians all three points against a resolute Mansfield side.
City made one change from the side that won 3-1 away at Cheltenham Town last weekend, with Matt Oakley – who picked up an injury in that match – dropping to the bench to be replaced by the fit again Jordan Moore-Taylor.
The Grecians were much the better side in the first half and should have gone into the break more than a goal to the good.
Mansfield had a couple of early chances as Matt Green shot over and Patrick Hoban had a close range shot blocked, but the Grecians were looking lively on the counter with Reuben Reid breaking into the box on a couple of occasions and Lee Holmes and Watkins also looking dangerous.
It was Mansfield-born Holmes who created the opening goal of the match as he wriggled his way past a couple of challenges on the left before picking his head up as he raced into the area to allow him to play an inch-perfect pass into the feet of Watkins who side-footed home from eight yards.
Wheeler then created another great goalscoring opportunity when he outpaced Malvind Benning to get on the end of a long ball and then squared it across the six-yard box. He was looking for the run of Reid who would have had a tap-in had Rhys Bennett not got a crucial sliding interception to force the ball behind for a corner.
Holmes then continued his impressive performance as he hit a volley into the side netting, before Reid set Watkins up with another sight at goal. However, this time the 20-year-old fired his first-time shot off target.
Mansfield manager Steve Evans made two changes at the break bringing on Darius Henderson and Chris Hamilton on for Kevan Hurst and Pat Hoban.
And the changes seemed to have the desired effect as the visitors began the second half on top with Jamie McGuire, Ashley Hemmings and Lee Collins all went close to equalizing.
City could have made the game safe with a couple of chances just past the hour. First a long ball over the top found Wheeler, but his first-time volley found the side netting.
Then Watkins broke into the left side of the area but elected to shoot from a tight angle, when he really should have pulled the ball back for Reid, and keeper Scott Shearer saved.
Mansfield piled on the pressure in the closing stages and City were indebted to some strong defensive performance – none more so than Troy Brown who seemed to get his head to everything in the area and put in a couple of telling blocks as well.
However, it was Watkins who grabbed the headlines as he latched on to a clearance from Jack Stacey, as the game approached the 90th minute mark, he raced past two defenders and drilled a shot across Shearer and into the bottom left corner of the net to secure the three points.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Pym; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Wheeler, James (Tillson, 70), Taylor, Holmes (Oakley, 73); Watkins, Reid (McAlinden, 80). Subs not used: Hamon, Harley, Grant, McAlinden, Croll.
Mansfield Town (4-3-1-2): Shearer; Collins, Bennett, Pearce, Benning; Clements, Hurst (Hamilton, 45), McGuire; Hemmings; Hoban (Henderson, 45), Green. Subs not used: Jensen, Baxendale, Rose, Thomas.
Booked: Benning, Pearce, Henderson
Red card: Benning
Attendance: 3,626 (124, away)