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⏮ Classic Encounter: City 2 Crawley Town 2

Jed Penberthy takes a look back at a classic encounter with the Red Devils

19 October 2020

Crawley Town will be the latest visitors to St James Park on Tuesday night, so we travel back to we 2015/16 season, when three goals of the highest quality meant the game finished all square.

Two wondergoals from Alex Nicholls and Tom Nichols were in vain, as Crawley snatched a late equaliser, in a mid-table match on Remembrance Weekend 2015.

Exeter City 2-2 Crawley Town
St James Park | November 14, 2015

The visitors travelled to Devon on the back of a late 1-0 win over York City and made two changes for this fixture. Deacon and Ashton were recalled replacing Yorwerth and Fenelon. Fifteenth place Exeter City wanted to respond after their previous league defeat to Barnet two weeks prior, between was the FA Cup win over Didcot.

Clinton Morrison earned his start after his goal against the non-league side and Paul Tisdale made three other changes, calling up Aaron Davies, Moore-Taylor and Alex Nicholls to the league starting line-up.

The wholesale changes seemed to pay dividends as City broke the deadlock in the eighth minute. Attacking towards the Big Bank, David Noble’s forward ball was well dummied by fan-favourite Morrison. Tom Nichols superbly held off the pressure from the Crawley Town full back and found space for the pass.

Alex Nicholls then exploited the area left absent by Lewis Young, and crashed his left footed shot off the underside of the bar to give City the early lead.  

Just before the half hour though, the Red Devils were level. Walton’s corner from the right-hand side was looped into the middle of the box and Sonny Bradley’s towering header restored parity.

Exeter expertly regained the advantage on the stroke of half time. Grant found room in midfield and fizzed the ball into Tom Nichols. 25 yards out, the young strikers first touch set himself up for the most sumptuous left-foot volley into the far corner past a sparing Darryl Flahavan.

A deserved lead for Exeter just before the break. A Goal of the season contender? Most seasons maybe.

But the 2015/16 season was a different gravy for Exeter City for the quality of goals. To the point where nearly every goal on this end of season compilation could have been deemed worthy of a place.

Tom Nichols’ beautiful volley here against Crawley almost goes under the radar, in a year which included: Clinton Morrison’s bicycle kick against Stevenage; Holmes’ corner vs Liverpool; and Ollie Watkins’ winner in the derby.

Back to this match however, and there was a late twist in the tale at SJP. A very late twist.

In the dying embers, heartbreak for Exeter- as substitute Luke Rooney broke clear of Wheeler and Nichols in the heart of midfield, shrugged off pressure from David Noble and fired a left-footed shot beyond Bobby Olejnik to save a point.

A fair result in the context of the game, but frustration for City as they were unable to hold onto the lead- which would have taken them into the top half of the table ahead of a trip to the ‘Cornish Coast’.

Exeter City: Olejnik, Davies, Brown, Moore-Taylor, McAllister, Grant, Harley, Noble, Nicholls, Nichols, Morrison (Wheeler 78)

Unused: Butterfield, Reid, Hamon, McCready, Tillson, Watkins

Crawley Town: Flahavan, Young, Bradley, Ashton (Rooney 53), Hancox, Deacon, Walton, Smith, Edwards, Murphy (Fenelon 70), Harrold (Barnard 78)

Unused: Scales, Preston, Bawling, Tomlin

Referee: James Adcock

Attendance: 3,664


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