Exeter City suffered a 2-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion in the Emirates FA Cup third round tie at St James Park.
It was Albion’s first half dominance that inflicted the damage on City as early goals from Salomon Rondon and Jay Rodriguez were enough to send the Premier League side into the fourth round, despite Christy Pym’s fine penalty save.
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City manager Paul Tisdale made two changes to the side that fell to defeat against Newport County on New Years Day with Lloyd James and Craig Woodman being replaced by Liam McAlinden and Hiram Boateng in the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Albion boss Alan Pardew named a strong starting XI for the visitors.
Albion went in front just 72 seconds after kick-off when City failed to clear Chris Brunt’s teasing cross and the ball fell to Salomon Rondon on the edge of the City area. The striker curled a first time effort into the top corner which Christy Pym got a hand to, but couldn’t keep out.
City had their first chance of the game after 15 minutes when Jayden Stockley failed to connect with a fine, curling cross from McAlinden which had caused problems for the Albion defence.
Soon later, Albion doubled their advantage when Hal Robson-Kanu’s cross led to a mix-up in the City defence which allowed the lively Rodriguez to latch on to the loose ball and poke home from point-blank range, leaving Pym with no chance.
Just seconds later, the visitors thought they had scored a third when Rondon nestled the ball into the bottom corner, but the flag had already been raised for offside against the Venezuelan striker.
Albion were then denied what looked to be a certain goal when Pym pulled off a stunning save to prevent McClean’s close-range effort from rippling the net.
Pym came to City’s rescue again late in the first half after Albion were awarded a penalty for Pierce Sweeney’s foul on Rodriguez. But substitute Robson-Kanu failed to convert from the spot as Pym dived to his right to make the save.
City very nearly reduced the deficit on the brink of half-time when McAlinden’s awkward cross was fumbled by Ben Foster and the ball fell to Stockley. The City striker was faced with an open goal from a tight angle, but he failed to squeeze the ball home as his effort cannoned off the post.
Soon after half-time, Albion had another goal disallowed when Ahmed Hegazi bundled the ball into the net after the linesman had flagged for offside.
Albion were not as dominant in the second half and this allowed City to gain a foothold on the game. The hosts went close to pulling one back when Dan Seaborne failed to connect with Boateng’s swinging free kick after it fell to the defender at the back post.
After a spell of City pressure which saw both Jordan Tillson and Dean Moxey go close, Robson-Kanu was then sent through on goal but City’s defence forced him to rush his effort and he half-volleyed wide.
As the game drew to a close, City battled hard to look for opening but the Albion defence held firm to end City’s Emirates FA Cup adventure for another season.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Archibald-Henville, Tillson, Harley (Jay, 86), Stockley, Seaborne, McAlinden (Holmes, 54), Moxey, Taylor, Boateng (James, 63).
West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Nyom, Gibbs (Robson-Kanu, 10), Rondon, Brunt, McClean, Barry, Rodriguez (Field, 68), Krychowiak (Livermore, 83), McAuley, Hegazi.
Attendance: 5,638 (363 away)