Match report from Exeter City's 1-0 win over Burton Albion at St James Park
Exeter City’s impressive pre-season form continued as they won their fifth straight game against Championship Burton Albion.
Ollie Watkins scored the only goal of the game nine minutes into the second half, but what will have impressed City boss Paul Tisdale the most is the resilience the Grecians have found at the back.
The clean sheet was City’s fourth in five games – two of which have come against higher league opponents at home.
Tisdale named a strong starting XI for the game, but youngsters Matt Jay, Max Smallcombe, Connor Riley-Lowe and Alex Byrne all got places on the bench despite having featured in the previous night’s victory over Truro City and 15-year-old Ethan Ampadu was also among the substitutes.
Lee Holmes had the first sight of goal after six minutes when Robbie Simpson flicked a header into his path, but the 29-year-old winger scuffed his shot and it was blocked wide for a corner.
Holmes then had another chance to break the deadlock six minutes later when Jake Taylor sent in a low cross, but his first-time shot ended a foot wide of the left hand post.
Burton Albion responded with a couple of chances, but Lee Williamson fired off target and Lucas Atkins’ snapshot from the edge of the box was easily gathered by Grecians keeper Bobby Olejnik.
A cross from Holmes then set up Taylor with a shooting chance at the back post, but the former Reading man couldn’t find the target from an acute angle.
It was the same for Burton’s Damien McCrory in the closing stages of the first half as his angled drive went all the way across the six-yard box and harmlessly out for a goal kick.
City had the first chance of the second half as Taylor’s cross from the right was headed down by Holmes, but Wheeler could only prod the ball over on 48 minutes.
However, City were in front six minutes later as a long ball from Troy Brown was allowed to bounce on the edge of the Burton Albion box as Simpson went up for a header and Watkins gambled with a run in behind his strike partner and finished with a superb half volley into the top left corner of the net.
After taking the lead Tisdale rang the changes from the bench over the next quarter of an hour, bringing on 10 substitutes including 15-year-old Ethan Ampadu at centre-half.
However, despite the changes, City’s shape and defensive solidity was not disrupted with Albion only creating a couple of chances in the final half hour.
The best opportunity came when Chris O’Grady played in a curling cross from the right, which record signing Jackson Irvine met with a diving header. However, thankfully for City, the effort was a foot wide of the post.
Olejnik’s goal wasn’t really troubled after that with only a long range shot from Stuart Beavon forcing him to make a comfortable save.
Olejnik; McCready (Sweeney, 65), Brown (Oakley, 73), Archibald-Henville (Ampadu, 63), Moore-Taylor; (Woodman, 73) Holmes (Riley-Lowe, 65), Taylor (Smallcombe, 73), James (Tillson, 73), Wheeler (Byrne, 51); Watkins (McAlinden, 69), Simpson (Jay, 69).Exeter City:
Burton Albion:McLaughlin; Flanagan (Edwards, 80), Turner, McFadzean, McCory (Delaney, 80); Palmer (Fox, 45), Williamson (Naylor, 68), Irvine, Akins (Harness, 80); Beavon, O’Grady. Subs not used: Bywater, Harness, Edwards, Delaney.
Attendance: 786 (16, away).