Exeter City secured a second away win of the season and bounced back from midweek defeat with a 2-0 victory away at Carlisle United.
Ryan Trevitt’s first goal for the club – his first in professional football - set City on their way, before Demetri Mitchell doubled the lead late on in the match as the Grecians secured a third clean sheet in four League One matches.
Manager Gary Caldwell made two changes for the 694 mile, 12-hour round trip to Cumbria, swapping Tom Carroll for Reece Cole in central midfield, while Sam Nombe returned to the starting line-up for James Scott, who faces a spell on the side-lines through injury.
Inside the opening minute, the home side had the first chance of the game as Sean Maguire’s effort from outside the box made sure Viljami Sinisalo was alert, firing just wide of the Finn’s right hand post.
Carlisle certainly had the better of the opening stages, with the Grecians’ defence looking anxious under the press as the back three struggled to find routes out of the final third.
When they did though, City’s first chance came into fruition. Alex Hartridge found Zak Jules in space centrally before Jack Aitchison picked out Dion Rankine in space on the right, with the Chelsea loanee’s cut inside and subsequent shot blocked.
City’s next chance came in fortuitous circumstances as Mitchell’s cross, initially eyeing Nombe at the back post, looked simple for Carlisle keeper Tomas Holy but the Czech stopper fumbled the effort, with the ball looping up awkwardly before he recovered. Moments later, City’s no.7 dragged an effort wide as the Grecians began finding more in-roads.
Trevitt’s mazy run then forced the next effort as he held off the challenge and feigned laying it off to Mitchell, before picking out Rankine at the far post who could only fire behind from a difficult angle.
For all their attacking threat, City’s downfall in the first half was sloppy passing and miscommunication, and it almost proved costly with ten minutes left of the first half as the ball was put on a plate for a Carlisle man inside the area, with Sinisalo forced to punch the ball behind.
After being booked earlier in the half, Mitchell was perhaps fortunate to still be on the pitch after a second challenge, leaving a trailing leg on Fin Back after losing the ball but escaping further punishment from referee Adam Herczeg.
Aitchison was perhaps the brightest spark in City’s first 45 and as the clock ticked towards the interval, the Scot mounted a run towards the edge of the area, but was shrugged off the ball as he let loose, summing up a first half void of much quality from either side.
The second half started much like the first, with Carlisle having most of the ball in the early stages, and Sinisalo had to be switched on again as Owen Moxon’s free kick forced him into a low save. The hosts kept the ball in-play though, with the Finn then using his strong hands to hold Maguire’s close range header.
Both sides began turning over the ball far too easily in a five period from the restart, with Nombe and Trevitt both left frustrated in good attacking positions, before Maguire tested Sinisalo at the other end once again.
Cole found Trevitt again with inch perfect precision for a great opportunity to take the lead, but his effort came to end after one too many touches inside the Carlisle area.
Frustrations set in, and Caldwell made changes as he looked to swing the game in City’s favour, switching Jules for Sonny Cox to add to the firepower in the final third.
Another chance soon came for the Grecians as Pierce Sweeney nodded Cole’s perfect corner just wide, the wind swerving the ball away to the left hand side of the post.
The next corner though, just moments later, saw the breakthrough City needed. Cole’s ball was headed out to the edge of the box by the Carlisle defender, but waiting on the edge to coolly slot it under everyone inside the area, and past Holy, was Brentford loanee Trevitt to net his first goal in the red and white, of Exeter, at least. It was the first professional goal of the 20-year-old’s career.
With the impetus now in the Grecian’s favour, and substitute Cox looking lively, the Grecians went on the hunt to secure the points.
However, the next big chance fell to the home side who themselves were showing endeavour. It was a corner that tested Sinisalo, as Paul Huntington’s bullet header was tipped round the post in superb style by the Finn.
That save would prove crucial as City doubled the lead with ten minutes to go. Aitchison held up the ball for Cole on the near touchline, allowing Cole to whip in a fantastic ball to the area. Trevitt controlled and on the pivot found Mitchell rushing to the edge of the six-yard box, who coolly slotted home a second goal.
It was now a case of shutting up shop for the Grecians, with City successfully seeing out five minutes of added time to secure three points.
City are next in action on Saturday, August 26, when Reading head to St James Park.
Carlisle: Holy (GK), Back, Armer, Moxon, Lavelle, Huntington ©, Gibson (Butterworth 64’), Guy (McCalmont 79’), Edmondson (Plange 64’), Mellish (Charters 79’), Maguire.
Subs not used: Andresson,, Garner, Barclay.
City: Sinisalo, Rankine, Sweeney, Aimson ©, Hartridge, Jules (Cox 62’), Cole, Trevitt, Mitchell (Harper 86’), Aitchison (Diabate 86’), Nombe.
Subs not used: Woods, Carroll, Taylor, Borges..
Referee: Adam Herczeg
Attendance: 7,610 (318 away)