A late goal from Ryan Bowman gave Exeter City all three points in an eventful game in difficult conditions against Macclesfield Town.
The Grecians had led 2-0, before goals from Connor Kirby and Fiacre Kelleher brought the home side level, though Bowman’s goal late on decided the game.
Manager Matt Taylor made two changes to the side that beat Oldham 5-1 on Tuesday night, with Dean Moxey and Brennan Dickenson coming into the starting XI in place of Jayden Richardson and Tom Parkes, who was unwell.
The home side started brightly, with Lewis Ward required on two occasions in the opening stages to palm a shot from range round his right-hand post and then to punch away the following corner, before an Archie Collins free-kick saw Macclesfield goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell forced into action for the first time.
City opened the scoring with 11 minutes on the clock, as an incisive pass from Matt Jay found Randell Williams down the City right-wing in acres of space – and Williams punished Macclesfield by delivering a perfectly weighted cross to the back post, where Nicky Ajose was waiting to tap home.
Things got even better for the Grecians six minutes later when Pierce Sweeney doubled the lead six minutes later, with a rasping drive after a cross from Brennan Dickenson made its way to the back post with the help of a flick on from Ryan Bowman. It was the Irishman’s third of the season, and the best yet – a powerful hit on the half-volley that left Mitchell no chance.
City were creating chances at will and had a huge chance to add a third before the half-hour mark, as Ajose’s lob was blocked by Mitchell before the Macclesfield goalkeeper held onto Matt Jay’s shot. Ajose had another chance soon after when Nathan Cameron miscontrolled a long ball from Archie Collins, and Ajose threatened to capitalise on the error but his effort was mishit and proved an easy save for Mitchell.
The home side pulled a freak goal back when a long-free kick from Mitchell took an unfortunate deflection off Nigel Atangana before falling to Connor Kirby, who beat Lewis Ward from close range. The wind picked up and the blusterous conditions made things hard for the City backline, and Macclesfield nearly took advantage of another loose ball and the Grecians had Lewis Ward to thank for keeping things level. Shilow Tracey, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, fired wide just before half-time having created half a yard of space against Pierce Sweeney.
Into the second-half, and City had appeals for a penalty waved away when Aaron Martin came close to converting a set-piece from close range, but the Grecians were punished for not taking advantage of their chances when Kelleher headed in from a corner after 63 minutes.
Dean Moxey was required to block another effort from Kirby with 84 minutes gone, as the Macclesfield player fired a shot towards goal through a crowd of bodies, before the game took another twist – Pierce Sweeney cut inside on the right-flank before feeding Randell Williams, who notched his second assist of the game by delivering a cross to the six-yard box that Ryan Bowman was on hand to tap home to give the Grecians the lead late in the game.
The Grecians were able to see out the remainder of the game to come away from the game with three vital points.
Macclesfield Town: Mitchell, O’Keeffe, Fitzpatrick (Archibald 45), Kelleher ©, Horsfall, Cameron, Tollitt, Whitehead, Kirby, Wilson (Tracey 22), Ironside. Subs not used: Rose, Hamblin, Blyth, Gnahoua.
Exeter City: Ward, Moxey ©, A Martin, Sweeney, Williams, Dickenson, Collins, Jay (Taylor 52), Atangana, Ajose (Richardson 83), Bowman.
Subs not used Arthur, Warren, L Martin, Fisher, Holmes. :
Booked: A Martin, Dickenson
Attendance: 1,389 (298, away)