Exeter City make it six wins on the spin as they move up to fourth
Exeter City moved up to fourth in the League Two table as they made it six wins on the spin with an impressive performance over Wycombe Wanderers.
The 4-2 victory, which came courtesy of goals from David Wheeler, Troy Brown, Joel Grant and Ollie Watkins, stretched the Grecians unbeaten run to 11 league games – two away from equaling a club record – and was made more impressive when you consider that it was in-form Wycombe’s first defeat in League Two since October.
City manager Paul Tisdale made two changes to the starting line-up as Robbie Simpson and Joel Grant came in for Watkins and Ryan Harley. Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth made seven changes to the side that lost narrowly 4-3 away at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
That saw Paul Hayes, who scored twice at White Hart Lane, miss out along with Adebayo Akinfenwa who scored the winning goal when City visited Adams Park in October.
It was the Grecians who started the match brightly with Craig Woodman and Jack Stacey getting forward well to deliver good crosses into the box. It was from one of these crosses – from the right – that City took the lead as David Wheeler prodded the ball in from inside the six-yard box.
It was the 26-years-old’s sixth goal in six consecutive matches which equaled a club record set by Henry Poulter in the 1933/34 season and a matched a feat that has not been achieved by a Grecian player since Roderick Williams also netted in six consecutive games in the 1936/37 campaign.
Crosses continued to cause problems in the Wycombe area throughout the first half as Robbie Simpson and Brown headed corners narrowly wide.
However, Wycombe fired a warning shot on 35 minutes as Sam Saunders sent an effort narrowly over. And the Chairboys equalized a few minutes later as a corner found its way to the back post where Garry Thompson hit a first-time volley past Christy Pym.
It was again City who were on top at the start of the second half though as a Lloyd James’ free-kick was headed out from under his own crossbar by a Wycombe defender. The ball fell to Brown but he could only plant the rebound header against the crossbar.
Pym then had to make a superb stop to deny Thompson who got on the end of a long ball over the top of the City defence. That save proved to be telling as City took the lead 10 minutes later as substitute Watkins crossed for Brown to fire home from close range on 65 minutes.
A minute later and it was 3-1 as Watkins, again, caused problems in the Wycombe defence as he dribbled his way into the area before delivering a low cross that Grant side-footed home at the back post.
Grant then had another effort cleared off the line and Liam McAlinden had a goal ruled out for offside as City remained on top of the game.
However, Wycombe started to throw men forward with substitute centre-back Aaron Pierre playing as a make-shift striker. And the gung-ho approach seemed to have worked when fellow substitute Alex Jakubiak got the visitors back into the game in the 89th minute as he drilled a low shot past Pym.
That set up a nervy last five minutes of injury-time, but Watkins and McAlinden were full of running up front. And it was the impressive Watkins who made the game safe as he stole possession off a Wycombe defender, rounded keeper Blackman and placed the ball into the back of the net to cap a superb 30-minute display.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Pym; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Wheeler, James, Taylor, Grant (Tillson, 70); Simpson (Watkins, 56), Reid (McAlinden, 67). Subs not used: Olejnik, Oakley, Croll, Sweeney.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-2-3-1): Blackman; Jombati, Muller, De Havilland, Harriman; Bean, Gape; Kashket (Jakubiak, 54), Saunders, Weston (Pierre, 73); Thompson (Freeman, 82). Subs not used: Richardson, Stewart, Pierre, Wood, O’Nien, Freeman.
Booked: Bean, Pierre
Attendance: 3,656 (148, away)