⏮ A look back at the last five opening day results

After a season to remember for all the right reasons, we are just a few days away from finding out our Sky Bet League One opponents.

Finally, Thursday 23 June sees the fixtures released for the 22/23 season, which begins on the weekend of the 30/31 July. With the Grecians back in the third tier for the first time in ten years, City fans only have a few days to wait before we can all start planning our lives for the next ten months. 

This piece will take a trip down memory lane, looking at how the Grecians have fared in each of their last five opening day outings.

1. August 7, 2021, Exeter City 0 Bradford City 0

Whatever the result was to be, there was a sense of celebration in the air as fans returned to St James Park for the first time in over a year after a Covid-enforced absence. All four sides of the Park was packed with jubilant fans from both sides, many of whom had not seen their teams play since March 2020. 

After a moment’s applause for legendary manager Terry Cooper and life-long City fan and East-Devon Grecian John Lee, the 2021/22 season kicked off.

Cameron Dawson marked his debut with a series of sensational saves to deny the ever-dangerous Lee Angol and earn a deserved Man of the Match.

Timothee Dieng, Jack Sparkes and Matt Jay tested Richard O’Donnell in the away side’s goal and Nigel Atangana went closest for the Grecians late on, but neither side could quite find the finishing touch.

2. September 12, 2020, Salford City 2 City 2

The Grecians' season began with a trip to promotion favourites Salford City at an eerily quiet Peninsula Stadium. The game would end in a 2-2 draw after a frantic 90 minutes, with City goals coming from Matt Jay and Joel Randall. 

The game started in the worst possible way for Matt Taylor's men as Ian Henderson fired the hosts ahead a little over a minute into the match. In what would be a superb season for him, Matt Jay levelled the scoring with a brilliant individual goal, marauding through the middle before firing low under Vaclav Hladky in the Salford goal. 

12 minutes later and City were ahead, this time through Joel Randall who scored his first League Two goal from close range. Archie Collins' piledriver was tipped onto the bar by Hladky, but Randall was there to turn in the rebound. 

Ash Hunter's volley levelled for the Greater Manchester side in the second half and City travelled back to Devon with a decent point in the bag to start the campaign. 

3. August 4, 2019: City 1 Macclesfield Town 0

The Grecians kicked-off a new season at St James Park for a third season in a row, as Matt Taylor took charge of his second season in the hot seat at St James Park.

City would pick up their first win of the new campaign with a 1-0 win over Macclesfield Town thanks to a late strike from Ryan Bowman.

It took until the 88th minute for the all-important goal to come, and it came from a Ryan Bowman finish which came from Nicky Law’s effort towards goal.

4. August 4, 2018: City 3 Carlisle United 1

A new era dawned at St James Park as City boss Matt Taylor took charge of his first competitive match of the Grecians following the summer departure of long-serving manager Paul Tisdale.

Matt was tasked with the job of leading the Grecians into another season of League Two action following a second successive defeat at Wembley stadium in the play-off final. The City manager had a positive pre-season with the Grecians coming into the first game of the new campaign off the back of a 4-0 win over League One side Bristol Rovers in their final friendly.

It was a fantastic day for the Grecians as they picked up a 3-1 win over John Sheridan’s side. All three goals came from new summer signings with Nicky Law netting the first of the afternoon with a well-taken side footed finish in the first half.

Jonathan Forte quickly added a second for the Grecians when he found space before firing at goal with a well-taken effort. Carlisle then threatened towards the end of the first period and they pulled a goal back with a header from Richie Bennett, but youngster Tristan Abrahams confirmed the three points late on when he finished coolly.

The match preceded an exciting campaign in Matt Taylor’s first season in charge with a number of highlights. Unfortunately, the Grecians missed out on a place in the end of season play-offs by just one point.

5. August 5, 2017: City 1 Cambridge United 0

The Grecians came up against Cambridge United on the opening day of the 2017/18 season at St James Park as they made a winning start to the campaign.

After thrashing Dorchester Town 6-1 in a pre-season match just a few days before, Paul Tisdale named the same starting XI. It was the perfect start to the season when the Grecians went ahead five minutes in after a long ball from Jordan Moore-Taylor towards David Wheeler causing havoc in the United box as Jake Carroll handled the ball, leaving referee Trevor Kettle with little choice but to point to the spot.

David Forde then saved Reuben Reid’s penalty but was unable to push the ball clear as the now former City striker pounced to fire in the rebound. Liam McAlinden looked threatening for much of the afternoon and had a shot go over Forde’s goal in a tight match at St James Park. Luke Berry and Jabo Ibehre looked the most likely for the away side, but were limited to little in front of goal with Christy Pym and his defenders doing well to keep out United and hold onto the win.