Exeter City got their 2018/19 season off to a positive start with a 3-1 win over Carlisle United at St James Park.
In Matt Taylor's first competitive match in charge of the Grecians, they went ahead in the first half when Nicky Law struck, before Jonathan Forte added another with a composed finish.
United pulled a goal back just before half-time, but were unable to find an equaliser as substitute Tristan Abrahams then sealed the points for City with an injury time goal.
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The Grecians named the same side that started last weekend’s final pre-season match with Bristol Rovers as they looked to get off to a strong start on the opening day of the season.
It was almost the perfect beginning for the Grecians in the first minute when Hiram Boateng whipped in a teasing ball towards new striker Forte, but he mistimed his effort as goalkeeper Joe Fryer pounced on the loose ball.
The following quarter of an hour saw little in terms of chances with both sides sizing each other up as both had spells of possession.
The next chance that City created, though, would see them go ahead when Boateng sprung a move from the centre of midfield. He worked the ball well with Law before the latter played in Forte down the left-hand side and the forward crossed well for Law, who continued his run, before side footing a volley home on 16 minutes.
George Glendon would have the visitors’ first attempt at goal soon after when he received the ball on the edge of the box before shooting straight into the arms of Christy Pym.
City had the crossbar to thank on 24 minutes when Danny Grainger’s free kick from the edge of the box crashed off the woodwork and onto the goal line before the Grecian defenders cleared away.
But it was City, who looked dangerous every time they went forward, who would find the next goal just before the half hour mark when a period of sustained pressure saw Law thread in Holmes, who teed up Forte to open his account for the season with a fine finish as he doubled the home side’s lead.
In what was an exciting half of football at St James Park, John Sheridan’s side then pulled a goal back on 37 minutes when the Grecians failed to clear a couple of crosses before another ball came into the box and Bennett made no mistake as he guided his header into the far corner.
Forte was then presented with a chance to double his tally right on the cusp of half-time when he raced through after beating the offside trap. The forward just had Fryer to beat, but he was unable to lift the ball over him as City took a 2-1 lead into the break.
City started brightly after the break and almost enhanced their lead when Holmes cut in from the left before fizzing an effort towards the far corner, but he was unable to keep his shot on target as it edged just wide.
On 52 minutes United had a good opportunity when Hallam Hope darted inside the box before working space for a shot, which seemed to take a deflection off a City defender, nevertheless referee Graham Salisbury awarded a goal kick.
Jayden Stockley then had wonderful chance to get the Grecians' third when he was picked out expertly by Law, but the striker miscued his left footed attempt as it flashed just over Fryer’s goal.
The lively Tristan Abrahams was the introduced just after the hour mark, alongside Lee Martin, and the former created a good chance for himself after some tenacious running before he stung the palms of Fryer from a tight angle as Taylor’s side pushed to restore their two-goal cushion.
But Sheridan's side continued to look for an equaliser and began to see a lot more of the ball in the latter stages of the game, with the City defenders being forced to make a succession of blocks from corners.
Abrahams then confirmed the points for the Grecians when he was played in by Stockley as City broke forward in stoppage time. The youngster kept his cool before firing in powerfully to round off an excellent win.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, A. Martin, Law, Holmes (L. Martin 64), Stockley, Forte (Abrahams, 64), Moxey, Taylor, Brown, Boateng (Tillson, 85)
Subs not used: Hamon, Woodman, Oates, Jay
Booked: Forte, A. Martin
Carlisle United: Fryer, Miller, Grainger, Liddle, Parkes, Hope, Glendon (Jones, 73), Bennett, Slater (Devitt, 62), Yates (Campbell, 80), Etuhu
Subs not used: Collin, Gillesphey, Adewusi, Egan
Attendance: 4,266 (Inc, 235, away)