Exeter City fell to a 3-1 defeat against Swansea City in the seventh game of pre-season.
A Bersant Celina first-half double and a goal from Nathan Dyer proved to be the difference at St James Park.
Nicky Law got one back from the penalty spot, but it wasn’t enough to find a result for the Grecians.
City manager Matt Taylor named a particularly strong line-up including summer signings Nicky Ajose, Lewis Ward, Gary Warren and Tom Parkes, to face the highest ranked side that the club have faced during pre-season.
There was also a warm welcome for Matt Grimes on his return to St James Park for the first time since signing for Swansea in 2015.
George Byers had the first shot on target after Barrie McKay and Dyer linked-up creatively as the Swans looked to dominate playing out from the back.
The alert and threatening Oli McBurnie caused problems for City early on and forced a foul from Warren 25-yards away from goal, the resulting free-kick was devastating from Swansea’s Celina who curled a right-footed effort past Ward and into the very top left corner.
Another flash of concern momentarily swept over St James Park as Dyer whipped a ball into the box from the right-hand side, the ball deflected awkwardly off of Dean Moxey and looped onto Ward’s crossbar. Fortunately for the Grecians as the ball came down Pierce Sweeney was able to head back into the goalkeeper’s grasp.
Celina doubled his tally in the 21st minute as McKay wriggled his way through a couple of City players towards the by-line, and pulled a ball back towards the edge of the penalty area to allow the Kosovo international to slot home.
Ajose had the Grecians’ first attempt on goal, the striker picked up the ball 20-yards out from a Jake Taylor flick-on, but could only fizz the ball straight at Erwin Mulder.
McKay then had a chance of his own, he knocked the ball up with his thigh for a half-volley which was destined for the bottom left corner, but Ward was there to save and McBurnie was called offside on the rebound.
City were awarded a free-kick just before half-time in a dangerous area on the edge of the area, Ajose stepped up and looked to trick Mulder by striking low and towards the goalkeeper’s standing position but he claimed the ball well low down to his left.
Lee Martin also found an opening when he created a yard of space beyond Kyle Naughton, however his low drive was saved by Mulder as the Grecians started to establish a foothold in the game.
Byers’ persistence continued into the second-half and earned his side a goal in the 48th minute as he stole the ball deep into City’s half, rounded Ward, and passed the ball towards Dyer, who struck the ball firmly into the back of the net despite Robbie Cundy’s best efforts.
The Grecians earned their first clear cut opportunity not long after Swansea’s third as Taylor volleyed following a half-cleared corner into Byers’ hand, the referee Lee Swabey deemed it as a handball offence and Law dispatched the spot-kick straight down the middle.
Swans substitute Declan John found himself free on the left flank and cut inside onto his weaker right-foot yet couldn’t trouble Ward who tipped the ball away from goal.
City replacements Matt Jay and Will Dean looked to put their stamp on proceedings, but their crosses into the box were unable to find Alex Fisher or Ben Seymour pushing forward.
Following this defeat, the Grecians will look to bounce back as they make the short trip up the M5 to face Taunton Town on Thursday evening.
Exeter City starting XI: Lewis Ward (GK), Pierce Sweeney (Will Dean 62’), Lee Martin (Joel Randall 62’), Nicky Law (Ben Seymour 62’), Ryan Bowman (Randell Williams 45’), Nicky Ajose (Alex Fisher 62’), Tom Parkes (Aaron Martin 56’), Gary Warren (Robbie Cundy 45’), Dean Moxey (Jack Sparkes 45’), Jake Taylor (C) (Matt Jay 56’), Archie Collins (Jordan Tillson 56’).
Exeter City Unused Subs: Jonny Maxted (GK), Harry Kite.
Swansea City Starting XI: Erwin Mulder (GK), Joe Rodon (Brandon Cooper 75’), Mike van der Hoorn (Ben Cabango 75’), Barrie McKay (Wayne Routledge 64’), Matt Grimes (C) (Jack Evans 75’), Oli McBurnie (Borja Baston 75’), Bersant Celina (Jay Fulton 45’), Nathan Dyer (Joel Asoro 64’), Jake Bidwell (Declan John 64’), Kyle Naughton (Connor Roberts 45’), George Byers (Yan Dhanda 75’).
Swansea City Unused Subs: Kris Nordfeldt (GK).
Attendance: 2,486 (364)