Two first half goals saw the Grecians succumb to a defeat on the road, as Bolton Wanderers took the points at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Gary made two changes to the side who drew against Sheffield Wednesday, with Jonathan Grounds coming in to replace an injured Pierce Sweeney and Harry Kite returning to the side in place of Tim Dieng. Captaining the side today for the first time was Jevani Brown.
An early start from the travelling Grecians, saw City almost taking the lead inside the first minute, an obscene through ball from Jake Caprice found captain Brown in behind the Bolton back line, but the magic man was unable to unleash his box of tricks and the ball was cleared away.
Bang on the sixth minute and the home side should have taken the league, but thanks to Blackmans far post the ball didn’t find the back of the net. Wanderers top goal scorer Dion Charles found lots of space in the City penalty area and a wonderful cross found his head, but his header bounced off the post into Blackmans arms.
Only moments later and the home side did find the opener, this time the ball was pinballing around the City penalty area and after one effort was rebounded, Conor Bradley slotted the ball underneath Blackman who couldn’t do anything about it.
Bolton were starting to find joy on almost every attack and in the 15th, minute should have doubled their lead, but somehow the goal scorer Bradley completely miscued his header and missed an open goal.
All of the pressure from the home side paid off and Wanderers made it 2-0 after 26 minutes with their top scorer Charles smashing the ball home from 10 yards, City struggling to get the ball clear was really starting to benefit the home side.
Soon, again it was Caprice with the pinpoint pass, this time finding his fellow wingback Josh Key in the centre forward position but his effort on goal didn’t do much to trouble James Trafford in the Bolton goal.
The 40th minute saw another chance come and go for Bolton, another ball in behind catching out the City defence, but once again the post came to City’s rescue with the big man in the sticks well beaten, City were very lucky not to be 3-0 down.
After a poor showing in the first half from City, the second half started very much the same. A lapse in concentration from Grounds, allowed Charles through in on goal, but the centre half was able to make up for his mistake and put the ball behind for a corner with a textbook sliding challenge.
With things not going to plan for City, Gary saw it fit to make a triple change on the 60th minute with Sam Nombe, Tim Dieng and Jack Sparkes called upon to replace Kegs Chauke, Caprice and Grounds.
The introduction of the changes really livened up the City team, with the passing and attacking starting to quiet down the home side, no huge chances had come but with 15 minutes left to play City were still in the game.
With time starting to run out, Gary made an attacking change with Matt Jay coming on to replace Archie Collins. Jay saw himself involved straight away linking up with Nombe and Key, but the move only amounted to a corner. From the resulting corner Sparkes rifled the ball from 25 yards stinging the hands of Trafford but the young keeper was able to gather at the second attempt.
City’s next game is a festive one, with the Grecians welcoming Portsmouth to SJP on boxing day for an all-southern clash in League One.
City: Blackman, Key, Diabate, Grounds (Nombe), Hartridge, Caprice (Sparkes), Kite, Collins (Jay), Chauke (Dieng), Brown©, Stansfield
Subs not used: Lee, James, Harper,
Bolton: Trafford, Johnston, Sheehan (Williams), Charles (Kachunga), Iredale (Beck), Aimson, Morley, Afolayan (Sadlier), Toal, Lee © (Dempsey), Bradley
Subs not used: Dixon, John,
Referee: Scott Oldham
Attendance: 19942 (874 Away)