Exeter City beat Colchester United 1-0 at St James Park to take the Grecians into the play-offs with some momentum.
Robbie Simpson netted the only goal of the game in the second half as he headed home from Pierce Sweeney's cross in a match where the away side were denied from the penalty spot as Christy Pym made the save from Sammie Szmodics.
Match report sponsored by Speedy Freight
Having already confirmed their place in the end of season play-offs the Grecians made five changes to the side that were beaten by Stevenage last time out. Troy Archibald-Henville, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Ryan Harley, Liam McAlinden and Kyle Edwards all came into the side as competition for places increases going into the semi-finals next week.
In somewhat of a slow start to the match, it took until 13 minutes for City to create their first opening. And it came when McAlinden pounced on a defensive mis-kick to loft the ball over Dillon Barnes in the United goal before he opted to cross for Robbie Simpson instead of shooting, but the City number 8 was unable to get a head to it
Moments later Ryan Harley went close after good hold-up play from McAlinden, who teed up the City number 7, before his curling shot was palmed away by Barnes.
The visitors’ first and only real attempt of the half came just before the 20-minute mark when Ryan Gondoh cut inside from the right before miscuing his low shot which left Christy Pym untested.
City had the ball in the net on 40 minutes when Simpson headed in from Pierce Sweeney’s right-hand cross, but the referee adjudged the City forward to have fouled in the build-up play as he wrestled to win the ball meaning the sides would go in at the break level.
City created their first chance of the second period when Sweeney latched onto a deep cross at the far post, but the Irishman’s header edged just over as City pushed to go ahead.
The game then sparked into life, but at the other end, when Sweeney was penalised for fouling half-time substitute, Junior Ogedi-Ozokwe, in the penalty area. Szmodics then stepped up to take the spot kick for the away side but was denied by the legs of Pym as he turned the ball over the crossbar.
Szmodics would then have another attempt on 64 minutes when he managed to find himself a bit of space on the edge of the City box but shot well over as the City defenders rushed to shut him down.
The Grecians then created an excellent chance of their own when Dean Moxey was found on the left by Kyle Edwards just inside the box, and the full back struck the ball well but could only find Barnes’ left-hand post, and credit to defender Luke Prosser, who got back to prevent Simpson from tapping into an empty net.
Simpson didn’t have to wait long for another chance, though, when Sweeney delivered a fantastic deep cross from the right to the far post for the striker who held off his man before heading low into the net to put the Grecians ahead on 72 minutes.
Paul Tisdale's side continued to control the match as they now go into next week's play-off first leg tie with some momentum.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Archibald-Henville, Tillson, Harley (Woodman, 58), Simpson, Moore-Taylor (Seaborne, 58), McAlinden, Moxey (James, 80), Edwards, Boateng
Subs not used: Jones, Jay, Wilson, Loft
Colchester United: Barnes, Jackson, Prosser, Kent, Szmodics, Comley, Murray (Lapslie, 75), Mandron (Ogedi-Uzokwe, 45), Senior (Wright, 75), Vincent-Young, Gondoh
Subs not used: Walker, Eastman, Issa, Simms
Attendance: 4,615 (Inc, 174, away)