Exeter City suffered a frustrating defeat at The Valley as three second half goals and a Will Aimson red-card compounded an unfortunate evening for the Grecians.
James Scott slotted home to put City up midway through the first half, before Corey Blackett-Taylor tapped-in a rebound to take the teams into the break level. However, it was a game of two halves as the hosts capitalised on some fortune: Alfie May scored through a rebound from a penalty; City’s captain was sent off; and Miles Leaburn and May put two past ten-men to make the final score 4-1 at The Valley.
Manager Gary Caldwell named four changes from Saturday’s home defeat to Northampton Town, with Harry Kite, Jack Fitzwater, Demetri Mitchell and James Scott returning to the starting XI. Mitchell returns from suspension after receiving two yellows in the Grecians’ Carabao Cup win against Luton.
City kicked off, although it wasn’t until the fifth minute of the game that they got possession of the ball in Charlton’s half. Vince Harper won a foul on the edge of the City box and under instruction from the gaffer, Alex Hartridge sent it long. A defensive miscue from the Charlton defender on the end of the free-kick allowed the ball to fall at the feet of Scott, 30-yards out, who fired City’s first shot of the night just over the bar.
Aimson picked Harper out with a lofted pass across the pitch, Aimson’s second impressive long pass of the night. Harper brought the pass down and took a touch around Tennai Watson, darting to the by-line to win an ultimately unfruitful corner for City. Mitchell’s footwork quickly got under the skin of the Charlton defence, leaving Michael Hector to shove Mitchell to the ground 20-yards away from the ball, luckily for Charlton’s number 6, the officials’ attentions were on a Charlton counter-attack, which resulted in the ball being put in the net after the whistle was blown for offside.
City went 1-0 up in the 23rd minute, courtesy of a composed Scott finish. On the counter-attack, Reece Cole slid Scott through leaving just the ball, Scott, Mitchell and Charlton’s goalkeeper in the final third of the pitch. Mitchell darted to Ashley Maynard-Brewer's left, giving the option to Scott, and making it tricky for Maynard-Brewer to position himself. Scott opened-up his body, and placed the ball low to Maynard-Brewer's right. The ball nestled into the bottom corner, and to the elation of the 741 travelling Grecians, City took the lead at The Valley.
Aimson’s prime Jerome Boateng-esque pings across the pitch to Harper continued to cause Tennai Watson problems throughout the first half, though City failed to take their advantage into the half-time break. May lofted the ball into the City box and the towering figure of Chuks Aneke headed the ball into the crossbar. Before the bar could stop reverberating, the lottery of the rebound fell in the favour of Blackett-Taylor who tapped-in to equalise from close-range, sending the teams in at the break level.
After patient play and controlled possession in the beginning of the second half, City started to create chances. Zak Jules bounded through the Charlton defence, and played through Scott, who had just too much to do, his heavy touch forced him to too tight of an angle to get a shot off and so he recycled to Tom Carroll. Tom Carroll lofted the ball into the box and found the head of Jules, who had continued his initial run. Jules’ header was saved by Maynard-Brewer but it did signify a turning point, as the game opened up from that moment onwards. Mitchell saw the next opportunity, forcing a save with a low, curling effort from right to left from the edge of the Charlton area.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Charlton’s luck continued as they were awarded a dubious penalty. Second half substitute Yanic Wildschut cleared the ball in the box and as he did so, a Charlton player jumped into him, earning a penalty. Aneke stepped-up to take the penalty, and Vil Sinisalo saved, pushing the ball back into the penalty area. May was fortunate enough to be the first to the ball and struck the ball into an open net, creating a two-goal deficit.
Just two minutes later, the Addicks’ fortune continued, Aimson took a heavy touch in the centre circle and May challenged for the ball. The ref saw something that could not be seen from the press box – or the numerous angles of the replays. Aimson received a red card, leaving City with 10-men.
Aimson’s sending off completely changed the game as City’s evening went from bad to worse. Charlton capitalised on having the extra man, scoring twice in the last ten minutes of regulation time through Leaburn and May.
City next play at home to Barnsley at 15.00 on Saturday October 7.
Exeter City: Sinisalo, Kite (Aitchison), Aimson (C), Fitzwater (Sweeney), Hartridge, Jules, Carroll, Cole, Harper (Wildschut), Mitchell, Scott (Taylor).
Unused subs: Woods, Richards, Cox.
Charlton Athletic: Maynard-Brewer, Jones, Thomas, Dobson (C) (C. Campbell), Hector, May, T. Watson (T. Campbell), Aneke (Leaburn), Blackett-Taylor, L. Watson (Fraser), Tedic (Asiimwe).
Unused subs: Molyneux, Ness.
Referee: David Rock.
Attendance: 11,575 (741 away).