Exeter City beaten by second-half comeback from Doncaster Rovers
Exeter City fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Doncaster Rovers.
Reuben Reid had put the Grecians in front from the penalty spot early in the second half, but a double from John Marquis and a header from Liam Mandeville saw Darren Ferguson’s side return to Yorkshire with all three points.
City boss Paul Tisdale made three changes to the side that drew with Swindon Town in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night. In came Lee Holmes, Jake Taylor and Jack Stacey out went Robbie Simpson, Liam McAlinden and Joel Grant.
The game promised goals with the Grecians lining-up in an attacking 3-2-4-1 formation against a Rovers side who came into the match as the division’s top scorers.
However, the chances were few and far between for both sides in the first half and most of the visitors’ efforts at goal came from sloppy play by City at the back.
Matthew Blair arguably had Doncaster’s best effort to break the deadlock when he sliced a shot wide after James Hamon played a clearance straight into the path of James Coppinger.
Matt Oakley also had to be alert to head off the goal line in the 39th minute after Marquis’ shot had threatened to loop into the net.
At the other end City had an early free-kick from Lee Holmes that warmed the gloves of Marko Marosi and plenty of corners. However, the home side’s best chance to take the lead came when David Wheeler burst into the box and was brought down by Andrew Butler. However, referee Charles Breakspear turned down the appeals.
Moments later Jack Stacey, playing in a more advanced role, got in down the right-hand side of the area and delivered a wonderful low cross but his ball went right across the face of goal with nobody there to fire in.
City took the lead six minutes into the second half as Craig Woodman played a superb crossfield pass to set Wheeler away and he took the ball around Marosi who brought him down.
The referee took a few seconds to think about the decisions before pointing to the spot and Reid stepped up to score his third goal for the club and 98th in his career.
Ollie Watkins then had an effort on target a few minutes later, but Rovers were level with 19 minutes left to play as James Coppinger delivered a great cross to the back post where substitute Mandeville headed the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.
Reid then had a sight at goal to put City back in front, but his fiercely-struck shot was well held by Marosi.
And then Doncaster were in front when Mandeville got to the byline on the right and delivered a low cross that Marquis side-footed home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Watkins responded with another blistering drive that Marosi turned around the post and then Stacey delivered another low ball across the face of goal that Jake Taylor almost got on the end of.
However, Rovers then wrapped the match up in the 89th as Mandeville, who had been a menace since coming on, slid a pass into Marquis and he rifled a shot past Hamon.
Exeter City (3-2-4-1): Hamon; Sweeney, Oakley, Woodman; Taylor, James; Wheeler (Simpson, 78), Stacey, Watkins Holmes; Reid (Jay, 83). Subs not used: Olejnik, Grant, McAlinden, Riley-Lowe, Brown.
Doncaster Rovers (4-1-3-1): Mariso; Mason (Mandeville, 69), Butler (Baudry, 45), Wright (Alcock, 57), Evina; Houghton; Caulder, Blair, Rowe; Coppinger; Marquis. Subs not used: Etheridge, Keegan, Longbottom, Beestin.
Booked: Mariso, Baudry, Rowe, Mandeville.
Attendance: 3,540 (332, away)