Exeter City fell to a 2-0 defeat away from home against Tranmere Rovers in Sky Bet League Two.
James Norwood notched his first of the afternoon with a cool header after 30 minutes before he doubled Rovers' lead 15 minutes into the second half.
City then had to finish the game with 10 men following Dean Moxey's red card after 70 minutes. The Grecians had spells where they looked like scoring, but were unable to find their way past Scott Davies in the Tranmere goal.
Match report sponsored by Speedy Freight
Matt Taylor made two changes to the side that were beaten by Forest Green Rovers last weekend as Jonathan Forte and Jordan Tillson were replaced by Matt Jay and Archie Collins, who made his first league start for the club.
The Grecians created a good opening inside four minutes with a well-worked free-kick involving Moxey. The full back was played in down the left before he crossed dangerously towards Jay, who was unable to make contact with the ball as Davies claimed.
Another good chance fell for Taylor’s men in the 10th minute when Jay drove at the Tranmere defence before squaring to Jayden Stockley, who then played in Lee Martin, but his effort was well saved by Davies down low.
City then had James Hamon to thank when Connor Jennings rose at the far post to meet Jake Caprice’s cross and header powerfully towards the near post, but the City keeper made a wonderful save down to his right as he clawed the ball away.
Paul Mullin then had a chance on 26 minutes for the home side when he received the ball out on the right before he cut inside, but his left footed effort edged just over.
Tranmere took the lead just four minutes later when good play on the right saw Mullin cross into the middle for Norwood to head home past Hamon.
The Grecians looked for a way back in a physical contest as Jayden Stockley and Jay had efforts blocked in quick succession but weren’t able to find the net as they trailed going into the break.
City started the second period brightly, and had a good chance when Jay rose well from a cross on the right, as he headed a looped effort towards the far post, but Davies collected.
Jennings then had the chance to double Rovers’ lead when he received the ball centrally inside the City box before rifling an effort towards goal forcing Hamon into a fantastic save to his left.
Tranmere then found their second of the afternoon with a slice of good fortune when Larnell Cole’s thunderous effort came back off Hamon’s post before falling into the path of Norwood to slot the ball home and claim his second of the afternoon on 55 minutes.
City created two good openings in the 65th minute when Stockley managed to peel away down the right before seeing his low effort saved well. Moments later, the ball fell to Nicky Law just inside the Rovers box, but his effort lacked power as the Tranmere keeper saved.
The Grecians’ job was made even harder in the 72nd minute when Moxey was sent off for a second bookable offence as he appeared to handle the ball, despite Taylor’s side pushing to get back into the match.
Tranmere then managed the game well with the extra man as City struggled to create any real late chances, Lee Martin going closest with a half volley which was saved by Davies, as the Grecians returned to Devon with no points.
Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Caprice, Monthe, McNulty, Buxton, Cole (Gilmour, 73), Banks (Harris, 82), McCullough, Jennings, Mullin (Smith, 66), Norwood
Subs not used: George, Bakayogo, Mottley-Henry
Exeter City: Hamon, Sweeney, A. Martin, L. Martin, Law, Stockley, Jay (Abrahams, 62), Moxey, Croll, Taylor, Collins (Woodman, 74)
Subs not used: Weale, O’Shea, Tillson, Dean, Oates
Booked: L. Martin, Moxey
Sent off: Moxey
Attendance: 6,209 (Inc, 335, away)
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Mansfield Town on Saturday, March 30 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.