Exeter City returned to winning ways as they defeated Notts County 5-1 at St James Park.
City were 2-1 up at the break thanks to goals from Pierce Sweeney and Jayden Stockley before Enzio Boldewijn’s strike pulled one back for the away side. But both Sweeney, from the spot, another Stockley tap-in and an Aaron Martin header secured the three points for Matt Taylor’s side.
Match Report sponsored by Speedy Freight
The City boss made two changes to the side that were defeated by Lincoln City at St James Park last Saturday with Craig Woodman and Jordan Tillson coming in for Troy Brown and Tristan Abrahams.
City saw most of the ball in the opening stages, but it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock on nine minutes as Nathan Thomas picked up the loose ball, raced into the area and fired a shot just wide of the goal. Moments later, Notts striker Kristian Dennis found some space and ambitiously fired a shot straight at Christy Pym.
County winger Thomas was the first player to be shown a yellow card after a rash challenge on Pierce Sweeney. Then Sweeney was in the action soon after as he nodded Exeter into the lead. A Lee Holmes corner found the right back at the back post on 17 minutes, who headed home past Rob Fitzsimons.
It took just two minutes for City to double their lead as Stockley found the net for his fourth goal of the season. A terrific tackle from Jake Taylor retrieved possession for his side before an excellent ball played through Hiram Boateng who raced into the area, supplying a cross to Stockley who easily tapped home to make it 2-0.
Harry Kewell’s side nearly pulled one back on 27 minutes as Kane Hemmings pounced on the loose ball, but his tame shot bounced off the post as the score remained the same. At the other end, Boateng was next to test Fitzsimons as he lined up the shot, but his curled effort was held by the Notts ‘keeper.
City continued to be in control as half-time edged closer and Boateng was inches away from making it 3-0 as his powerfully-struck effort whistled inches over the bar. But out of nothing the away side pulled one back through Boldewijn. The winger picked up the ball on the left, cut inside and fired an emphatic strike which flew into the top corner to make it 2-1 at the break.
Notts County made a change at the break with experienced forward Jon Stead replacing winger Nathan Thomas as the visitors looked for an equaliser. Then just four minutes later Matt Taylor made a change of his own as Luke Croll replaced the injured Craig Woodman.
Notts made the better start to the second-half with Stead’s aerial presence already posing a challenge for the City defence, with Shaun Brisley heading over the bar from Boldewijn’s corner.
Lee Holmes was unlucky not to extend City’s lead on 57 minutes when he danced into the area and fired a shot at goal, but Fitzsimons impressively palmed it over the goal for a corner. From the resultant corner, a blatant handball from a Notts man saw referee Neil Hair point to the spot. Sweeney coolly stepped up and converted it for his second of the afternoon.
City were on the front foot after the third goal and the lively Holmes was inches away from making it three after another threatening run into the area, but his shot edged just wide of the far post. On 68 minutes Exeter were awarded another penalty when Boldewijn handled the ball in the area, giving Sweeney the chance for a hat-trick. The right-back stepped up to take it but this time dragged it wide as the score remained 3-1.
On 74 minutes Jayden Stockley had his fifth of the season and City’s fourth of the day as an impressive counter-attack led by Boateng played through Law who raced through, before squaring it to Stockley, who tapped home. Frustrations boiled over on the Notts touchline as Harry Kewell was shown a straight red card following the goal.
Lee Holmes for Matt Jay was the final substitution for the home side as City extended their lead when Law’s cross was headed home by Aaron Martin, as the game finished 5-1.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman (Croll 49), Martin, Tillson, Law, Holmes (Jay 89), Stockley, Moxey, Taylor, Boateng (Martin, 79). Subs not used: Hamon, O’Shea, Abrahams, Ogbene.
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Hewitt, Vaughan, Dennis, Thomas, Boldewijn, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Hemmings, Brisley, Ward, Milsom.
Attendance: 3,916 (278, away)
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.