Caleb Watts completed a perfect debut as his second half goal secured City another three points to send them top of Sky Bet League One.
After a goalless first half but one of many chances, the breakthrough came from the second half substitute, less than 24 hours after signing for the club.
Manager Gary Caldwell made two changes from last weeks defeat against Leyton Orient last Saturday, with the return of Vil Sinisalo from international duty and new signing Yanic Wildschut coming into the side. Watts joins the bench and Ilmari Niskanen misses out after returning from international duty with an injury.
The first 15 minutes saw the Grecians with most of the possession and our first chance coming in the seventh minute with Wildschut receiving the ball on the left side before sending it low into the box for Reece Cole to strike into Southwood’s hands.
The Grecians' defence was on top form throughout the first half with Cheltenham struggling to find their way into the final third. City found it hard to get the ball in the back of the net with multiple shots from Zak Jules and Reece Cole heading straight into the palm of the keeper’s hands
20 minutes in saw referee Martin Woods go into his book for the first time as he resulted in handing a yellow card to Cheltenham’s full-back Ben Williams on a harsh tackle on Demetri Mitchell just on half way.
It was the Grecians who continued to press against the visitors defence with shots flying towards Southwood as both Ryan Trevitt and Cole both testing the keeper from far causing some trouble towards Cheltenhams back line.
Jules was showing some great talent in his converted role in midfield having some great passing moves with Tom Carroll who was able to switch the play on numerous occasions to Wildschut and Mitchell.
Overall a positive first half for City as they were on top for most of the half which caused some serious problems for Cheltenham.
With the commencement of the second half City came out like they finished the first and continued to press the Robins back line and a early chance came in the 50th minute as he dribbled his way past multiple players and was able to take fire just on the 18 yard box which unfortunately ending up in the keepers hands once again.
There was a fantastic double save by Vil as Cheltenham made a huge counter attack via Elliot Bonds who knocked it wide to Jovan Malcom and came one on one with Vil who did superb to put pressure on the striker and make a double save and parry it away. It was Sinisalo's action of an otherwise quiet match for the Finn.
Caldwell felt the need to change it up in the 58th minute and try become more attacking to get the opening goal, another debutant in Watts took to the pitch in place of Wildschut and Kyle Taylor came on for Jules.
City should have taken the lead, but for a save from Southwood and the woodwork, with Sonny Cox, Trevitt and Mitchell all involved as the ball simply would not go in.
Perseverance paid off though just a few minutes later as Watts, on his debut by finding a loose ball on the edge of the six yard box where he strunk a wonderful half volley to send the Grecians into the lead they deserved.
After the goal Cox was replaced with James Scott on his return from injury, and he should have doubled the lead within minutes.
He stretched onto a Reece Cole cross and tapped the ball into the back of the net to increase the scoring until the linesman’s flag went up during the celebrations to rule the goal offside.
A crucial save by Vil in the 93rd minute secured the victory and clean sheet for the Grecians and receive maxium points at SJP.
Exeter City: Sinisalo (GK), Mitchell, Sweeney, Aimson ( C ), Hartridge, Jules (Taylor 58’), Carroll, Trevitt, Cole (Borges 89’), Wildschut (Watts 58’), Cox ( Scott 69’)
Subs: Woods, Fitzwater, Borges, Watts, Richards, Taylor, Scott
Cheltenham Town: Southwood (GK), Long ( C ), B. Williams, Bevan, Freestone, Sercombe, Street, Ferry, Chapman, J. Williams (Bonds 45’), Malcolm
Subs: Harris (GK), Keena, Olayinka, Bonds, Peupion, Davies, Butler-Oyedeji
Referee: Martin Woods
Attendance: 6312 (322 away)