The Grecians were back underway in league action once again, adding to the 11 goals scored in the previous two games was another finisher from Jevani Brown, but an unrelenting Cambridge United led to City's first loss of the season.
The travelling Grecians were welcomed to an extremely warm day in the East Anglian sunshine, with Abbey Stadium a welcome delight in the gorgeous weather.
With Matt Taylor naming an unchanged side from the one who beat Port Vale in the first home game of the season, Nombe and Brown were once again leading the front-line and it was a lovely combination between the two forwards that got Exeter's only goal of the game. Sam Smith and Paul Digby turned the game on its head though, as City fell to a first defeat of the season.
Pressure early on from the boys in blues saw captain Pierce Sweeney rifle two thunderous strikes from distance against the Cambridge backlines resulting in a corner early on, but the ball was cleared away from the United defence.
After only six minutes a fantastic save from Jamal Blackman from point blank range kept the City boys at 0-0, a real heart in mouths moment there for The Grecians. Only three minutes a lapse of concentration at the back saw Nombe send a lob over the ball, first real chance for Exeter.
Blackman was called into action once again, a lack of communication in the Exeter backline left the keeper to smother the Cambridge forward sending the ball out of play for a corner kick. Moments later and Brown picked the ball up on the edge of the Cambridge penalty area, after a lovely bit of link up play between Tim Dieng and Jack Sparkes down the left hand side, but his curling effort just sailed wide of the far post.
After being under the cosh for most of the opening 20 minutes, the pacing figure of Taylor on the touchline led to City getting themselves back into the flow of the game, with most of the pressure coming from the utilisation of both wing backs Josh Key and Jack Sparkes.
An absolutely fantastic run from Archie Collins led to the ball making its way to Nombe just inside the area who rattled the ball off the cross bar with a thunderous strike, the superb forward getting closer and closer to his fifth goal of the season. Moments later and the ball was back down the other end with another Cambridge corner causing trouble in the City penalty area, but the pressure not coming to fruition.
And they combined once again! An unrelenting Nombe chased down the Cambridge defence, with a superb tackle leading to the easiest five yard pass across the area, for Brown to slot away his third of the season, at his old stomping ground. City like usual this season, on top once again.
On the cusp of half-time, City almost made it 2-0 but Nombe misjudged the flight of ball from Sparkes outside of the boot cross, resulting in the ball skewing off the head of Nombe. With 45 minutes played it was again Brown and Nombe getting the travelling Grecians making some noise in the packed away end. With said travelling fans having gone 225 minutes without seeing a goal against their beloved City.
When the teams came out for the second half, neither manager saw any reason to make any changes, so the game restarted how the first half ended. With the first bit of pressure coming the way of Cambridge with another of their many corners, but the towering figure of Blackman in goal clutched the ball out of the air with ease. But City were not having any of that, and an immediate counter attack from The Grecians led to a mazy run down the left hand side from the unrelenting Sparkes, whose powerful left footed strike missed the goal by only a few inches.
With almost 60 minutes gone, a sloppy bit of play in the middle of the park by City, led to Cheick Diabate being caught out but luckily the ball was cleared away. But only moments later the pressure was back on and the next ball into the box by Cambridge led to the equaliser from Cambridge winger Smith.
Cambridge came close once again with a diving header sailing wide of the post, with the second drinks break of the game coming straight from that miss, it could not have come at a better time for Taylors boys with the pressure very much in United’s favour. On the 73rd minute Matt Taylor made his first two changes of the game with Matt Jay and Josh Coley replacing Key and Kite, with the extra push needed in the attacking third.
Another big chance goes amiss for Cambridge with the ball bouncing all around the City area, but much to the travelling Grecians delight the ball is cleared far up the pitch from the newly introduced Coley. A big kick over the top from Blackman in the 83rd minute finds Nombe in space behind the Cambridge back line, but the header was not executed how he wished with the ball landing easily in the hands of the United keeper.
Blackman came in clutch once again for City, with the newly signed keeper making his presence known by keeping the ball out of the back of the net after Cambridge forward Shilow Tracey was barrelling through on goal, mistakes being made from both teams. Seconds later and Exeter were behind for the first time this season. It was another header, this time from the towering Paul Digby rising highest to nod the hosts in front.
In added time the ball was all in favour of City with multiple corners being won down the Cambridge end, but all that pressure came to no avail.
Another game is very quickly round the corner with Wycombe the next team to make their way down to SJP on Tuesday the 16th of August.
Starting XI: Blackman, Key (Jay), Diabate, Hartridge, Sweeney (C) (Caprice) , Sparkes, Dieng (Grounds), Collins, Kite (Coley), Brown, Nombe
Subs Not Used: Brown, Stubbs, Chauke
Cheltenham: Mitov, Williams, Digby (C), Jones, Brophy (Tracey), Ironside, Smith (O’Neil), Dunk (Haunstrup), Okedina, May, Knibbs (Lankester)
Subs Not Used: Mannion, Taylor, Jane
Referee: Sam Purkiss