Lee Martin scored the only goal of the game as Exeter City recorded a 1-0 victory over Newport County AFC at St James Park.
The goal came after only 13 minutes of the match and the Grecians put in a strong defensive display, in difficult conditions, to see out the match and extend the gap between themselves and fourth place to six points.
Manager Matt Taylor made two changes to the starting line-up as Jake Taylor and Tom Parkes came back into the side at the expense of Archie Collins and Dean Moxey.
The Grecians started well in rainy conditions that made an already heavy surface much softer under foot. They matched Newport’s physicality and forced a number of early corners. From one of these set plays City got their first shot on target as Jack Sparkes swung a cross to the back post where Pierce Sweeney prodded a shot towards goal that was gathered by Nick Townsend.
The early pressure continued and after 13 minutes they found the breakthrough as Randell Williams broke down the right and sent in a low cross which Ryan Bowman used to tee up Jake Taylor. Jake’s effort was well blocked but Lee Martin, powering his way into the box with a late run, profited and fire a first-time effort into the bottom corner.
Lee Martin’s impressive first half display continued as he took down a long ball from Jonny Maxted to set up Bowman with a sight of goal, but his effort, from 20 yards out, deflected wide for a corner.
Newport did have a couple of chances after that, one coming from Padriag Amond who fired wide from the edge of the box and the other from Taylor Maloney, who shot tamely at Jonny Maxted.
However, City were good value for their lead at the break and could have been further in front when Lee Martin turned and fired a shot from tight angle towards the top corner, but Townsend got across to palm the effort around his near post.
The second half started with City on top once more as Pierce Sweeney brought a save out of Townsend with a 30 yard shot before Randell Williams curled a free-kick towards goal that a section of the Thatchers’ Big Bank thought had crossed the line before the keeper claimed it.
Jack Sparkes then had a couple of effort blocked on the edge of the box, before George Nurse tested Maxted with a shot that went through a crowd of players, but the City keeper held onto it well.
However, it was a half of very few chances and as the game approach the final 10 minutes of the match the heavy pitch and swirling wind made it difficult for either side to string a number of passes together and as a result the Grecians held on for the victory.
Exeter City: Maxted, Sweeney, Atangana, A Martin, L Martin (Seymour, 89), Law, Williams, Bowman, Parkes, Sparkes (Collins, 84), Taylor. Subs not used: Ward, Tillson, Ajose, Jay, Richardson.
Booked: Bowman, Williams
Newport County AFC: Townsend, Haynes, Labadie, Amond (Abrahams, 45), Sheehan, Matt, McNamara (Collins, 75), Bennett, Maloney (Nurse, 45), Inniss, Demetriou. Subs not used: King, Dolan, Poleon, Jefferies.
Booked: Labadie, Abrahams. Matt
Attendance: 5,968 (521, away)
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