Exeter City fell to defeat in their opening group fixture of the Premier League Cup as they were beaten 3-1 away at Nottingham Forest.
The Grecians found themselves 2-0 behind at the break, despite creating the majority of chances in the first half, and then conceded shortly after the interval before James Dodd scored to get Dan Green’s side back in the match. City then hit the crossbar twice and had a good penalty appeal turned down but were unable to find the back of the net again.
City named a youthful team for the match, with no over-age players present. However, Archie Collins and Jack Sparkes, who have both played for the Grecians in the Carabao Cup this season, did start the game.
It was the Grecians who made the early running as Ben Seymour had a close-range effort blocked before Collins followed up to fire an effort over from eight yards. Collins then turned provider on 14 minutes as a mazy run into the area saw him pull the ball back for Seymour but his effort was comfortably saved by Forest keeper Liam Bossin.
Then, against the run of play, Forest took the lead after 23 minutes when they stole possession off the Grecians on halfway and produced a quick counter-attack that captain Toby Edser finished well.
Sparkes then went close with three efforts at goal, one which was just over the crossbar, another that rolled across the goal line and a third that brought a good stop from Bossin before Nottingham made it 2-0.
It came from a strong fifty-fifty challenge on the edge of the box that Jayden Richardson won and then the Forest player worked an angle for a shot before firing past James Hamon.
Having been fortunate to be ahead at the break, Forest came out an improved team in the second half and went close a couple of times before Edser squared the ball for Yassine En-Neyah to make it 3-0.
However, City responded well as substitute James Dodd almost found Sparkes with a good back post cross before the same move, from the other side, allowed Dodd to poke home a Sparkes cross on 64 minutes. Initially, it looked as though the Forest keeper had got to the shot, but Dodd’s effort was adjudged to have crossed the line by the referee’s assistant.
That sparked the visitors into life again and for the remaining half hour of the match then penned their hosts back. Five minutes later it should have been 3-2, but at first a deflected shot from Josh Key ended up hitting the crossbar before Sparkes volleyed another effort at goal, that also struck the woodwork, and then, as the ball, looped down off the crossbar, for a second time, Joel Randall looked set to nod the ball into an empty net only to be given a push in the back by a Forest player – a foul that went unpunished by the match officials.
However, City didn’t let that disappointment deter them and kept pushing for a way back into the match in the closing stages, but despite further efforts from Key and Sparkes they were unable to break through Forest again.
Nottingham Forest: Bossin, Lawrence-Gabriel, Richardson, Taylor (Coventry, 77), Ahmedhodzic, Stewart, Appiah (Yassine En-Neyah, 52), Johnson (Megaritis, 65), Gomis, Edser, Ariyibi. Subs not used: Wright, Fornah.
Exeter City: Hamon, Randall, Collins, Kite (Morison, 89), Key, Sparkes, Hartridge (Belsten, 42), Seymour, Dyer, Smallcombe (Dodd, 58), Dean. Subs not used: Norman, Diabate.