Exeter City’s pre-season regime continued on an upward curve courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Taunton Town on Friday night.
Despite a goalless, and largely uneventful first half, Tim Dieng’s 76th free-kick broke the deadlock at the Cygnet Health Care Stadium, before the Peacocks levelled moments later through Harry Warwick.
City continued to pile forward however as time ran down, and Dieng bagged his second, and won the game for his team in the 87th minute after he linked up nicely with Nelson Iseguan.
City boss Matt Taylor once again opted to play two different XI’s in either half as his playing squad continued their quest in getting up to speed for their upcoming League One campaign.
The Grecians started with captain Matt Jay and Academy youngster Alfie Clark in attack, while midfielder, Pedro Borges, was included from the beginning following his bright showing on Tuesday against Weston Super Mare.
Despite the kick-off being delayed by 10 minutes, the excitement and expectation that was contained inside the four sides of the stadium were evident, with numerous Exeter supporters parking themselves and starting their chants behind the Taunton goal.
The opening exchanges were rather even, with both teams having rather prominent spells with the ball; Archie Collins looking the most tidy in possession from those in a City jersey.
It was the Peacocks though that created the contest’s first real opportunity after quarter of an hour. Alfie Pond’s loose touch was seized upon by the home attack, before a low cross came from the right hand byline; Josh Key’s recovery challenge, however, stopped Taunton’s Nick McCootie converting from close range.
While the Grecians had some encouraging signs down the flanks, another positive note from Town came in the 25th minute when some direct play saw them charge towards Harry Lee’s goal, but some poor ball retention meant the chance came to nothing.
Bright moments from Borges released Jay for a footrace against Taunton goalkeeper Will Buse in the lead up to half-time, however, the Bristol City loanee won the chase against the Exeter skipper before the ball was cleared to safety. A minute later, Key won possession high up for Taylor’s men, but the wideman could only fire his effort into the side netting.
The away side tried to go through the gears in the final few minutes of the opening 45, and an inventive short corner routine saw the ball moved onto Jack Sparkes. His teasing deep ball somehow avoided everyone in the danger area, and the ball went out harmlessly.
The final opening before the interval came from an attack down the right hand side. Key slipped a through ball into the path of replacement Aamir Daniels. The defender’s cross found it’s way to Sparkes, but he could only poke the ball over the crossbar and into the foliage keeping things goalless when referee Carl Peters blew his half-time whistle.
Taylor gave the armband to Dieng as he rotated his team for the second period, while Iseguan and Jake Caprice were given the wing-back roles for the remainder of the game.
While Town applied some pressure early on after the restart with a wide free-kick, the best chance of the opening exchanges of the second half came City’s way. Harry Kite and Caprice combined, which saw the latter dig out a cross to the back post. Iseguan stole ahead of his man before his diving header went wide of Buse’s upright.
Another promising moment for the hosts came when they sprung forward on a counter-attack just after the hour mark, but the lineman’s flag came to the rescue of the Grecians.
That sparked Taylor’s men into life, and almost immediately after Jevani “Giovanni” Brown knocked a through ball to Caprice. Again, like before, the full-back’s cross located Iseguan, who almost inadvertently sent a header past Buse, but his defender came to the rescue with a block to spare the goalie’s blushes.
As we entered the final quarter, some encouraging Exeter play down the left between Iseguan and Harrison King brought about a corner. The resulting set-piece saw Caprice link up with Dieng, however, the midfielder could only volley the ball off-target.
More Grecian positivity came in the 74th minute when Daniels’ ball down the line found Josh Coley. Some neat footwork, and an intelligent chip, looked to have played in Brown, but the ball was scrambled out of play by some desperate defending.
But for all their endeavour, City did finally make a breakthrough 14 minutes from time, and in some style too. After Dieng was fouled 25-yards from goal, the playmaker picked himself up and set the free-kick into the top corner, much to the delight of the travelling support behind the goal.
But their opponents never went away, and to their credit, the Peacocks responded with a score just two minutes later. Ollie Chamberlain tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area, which saw Lee deflect the ball away. But on hand, Warwick reacted quickest to bundle home the rebound to level the scores.
Both sides continued to trade opportunities, with Brown the latest culprit to shoot over from the visitors’ point of view.
But the Devonians picked up the pace once again as the contest reached the final five minutes. With the ball played into Dieng as City entered the final third, the cultured Frenchman fed play wide to Iseguan and stormed into the box. Iseguan found Dieng with a low ball, and he placed the ball inside the far post to hand his team the lead once again.
Again, Town came back at Taylor’s men, with a long-range swirling effort troubling Lee, but ultimately, City were good for their victory, and when full-time sounded, it was they who took home the victory.
The Grecians are in action again on Tuesday night when they play against Truro City at the Cliff Hill Training Ground as their pre-season continues in a 6:30pm kick-off, where you can find the details for here.
Exeter City 1st Half: Harry Lee, Harrison King, Alfie Pond, Jonathan Grounds, Josh Key, Jack Sparkes, Harry Kite, Pedro Borges, Archie Collins, Matt Jay ©, Alfie Clark
Exeter City 2nd Half: Harry Lee, Harry Kite, Cheick Diabate, Alex Hartridge, Jake Caprice, Nelson Iseguan, Gabriel Billington, Tim Dieng ©, Pedro Borges, Jevani Brown, Josh Coley
Subs: Aamir Daniels
Taunton Town FC: Will Buse, Jay Foulston, Jake Wannell, Dan Ball, Nick Grimes ©, Zac Smith, Lloyd James, Joe Budd, Joe Guest, Jared Lewington, Nick McCootie
Subs: Lloyd Irish, Ollie Chamberlain, Ioan Richards, Harry Warwick, Will Tunnicliff, Freddie Hinds, Lewis Smith, Eli Collins, Ross Staley, Ross Stearn
Referee: Carl Peters