The Grecians are through to Round Two of the Carabao Cup after a 2-1 win over Crawley Town at St James Park.
After going down to an early Klaidi Lolos goal, it was a second half resurgence from City that secured passage to the next round, first Kyle Taylor's leveller before James Scott's second goal in four days.
There were four changes to the line-up that starred in the win against Wycombe, with Vincent Harper and Reece Cole making their full debuts, with 16-year-old birthday boy Jake Richards making the first team squad for the first time in a competitive fixture.
City’s first chance of the game came around the tenth minute, with Sam Nombe shrugging off a Crawley defender to run in through on goal, but he was unselfish and instead of shooting squared the ball, but there was no other City player on his wavelength and the ball was cleared away.
There hadn’t been much of the game played when City were forced into their first change, with Pierce Sweeney forced off the pitch with what looked like a knock to his leg. This led to City being down to ten men for a few moments, and in that time, Crawley took the lead from a corner. City didn’t clear their lines and Crawley’s Lolos was able to bundle home the set piece before Zak Jules was allowed to replace the Irishman.
After Rankine was felled 35 yards from goal, up-stepped set piece specialist Cole to have a pop at goal. However, his effort was to tame to trouble Luca Ashby-Hammond in the Crawley goal.
As the first half rumbled on, it was Rankine and Harper causing the most trouble for the Crawley defence. This time it was the former, who used his magic trickery to fool multiple defenders, but his effort on goal was blocked well by the Crawley defence and sent behind for a corner.
The City fans were all set to cheer in the 38th minute as the Grecians had their best chance on goal. A through ball found Nombe, who rounded both the defence and keeper only to lose his footing. In doing so he played the ball back to the penalty spot and there was James Scott who set up a rocket of a strike, but it smashed off the cross bar and over the goal and away.
Deep into first half added time, Trevitt was able to show his quality as he sent a searching through ball to Rankine, but the Chelsea loanee's brilliant effort was excellently saved by Ashby-Hammond.
It was another strong start to the second half for City, as they were aiming to get themselves back into the game, however, a block from a Crawley defender and an excellent reaction save from Ashby-Hammond stopped Aimson getting an almost certain equaliser.
Ashby-Hammond came to the rescue once again for Crawley as the Red Devils keeper made another stop to prevent Nombe getting an equaliser after he sent a curling effort towards goal from the left-hand side.
As the clock ticked past the 74th minute, SJP erupted as the newly introduced Taylor was able to equalise for the Grecians. A wonderful daisy cutter through ball from Trevitt found Cox running in behind the Crawley back line. His cut back to edge of the area found Taylor who smashed it home, scoring his first goal for City since his season ending injury back in April 2022.
Only ten minutes later and City found themselves in the lead for the first time in the game. It was Trevitt again acting as the conductor in the City midfield as he sent a peach of a cross to the back post and there in waiting was Scott who headed home for his second in as many games.
That was the end of the game for both Trevitt and Scott as they were replaced by a duo of academy players in Pedro Borges and 16-year-old Richards - who would receive a birthday card of the yellow nature from the referee just a few minutes later for a pull.
City's next game sees the Grecians host newly-relegated Blackpool at SJP in Sky Bet League One.
City: Sinisalo, Sweeney (Jules), Aimson ©, Hartridge (Taylor), Harper, Cole, Trevitt (Richards), Rankine, Scott (Borges), Nombe (Cox)
Subs not used: Woods, Beardmore, O’Connor
Crawley Town: Ashby-Hammond, Kelly ©, Ransom, Lolos, Henry, Fish, Omole, Mukena, Swyer, Khaleel, Grant
Subs not used: Addai, Brown
Referee: Chris Pollard
Attendance: 3560 (84 away)