Exeter City continued their fine start to the 23/24 season with a 1-0 win over Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.
Ryan Trevitt’s super strike on 75 minutes and some fantastic saves from Vil Sinisalo made it back-to-back wins on the road and three wins in a row in the league, moving the Grecians to top of EFL Sky Bet League One.
Manager Gary Caldwell made three changes from the Grecians penalty shoot-out win over Stevenage in midweek, with Tom Carroll, Dion Rankine and Demitri Mitchell returning to the starting XI, in place of Jack Aitchison, Sonny Cox and Vincent Harper.
Deadline day signing Admiral Muskwe started on the bench, alongside 16-year-old Jake Richards and Mitch Beardmore.
The Grecians lined up against former players Jake Caprice and Kegs Chauke in the Brewers starting XI, with Jamal Blackman and Rekeem Harper on the bench.
A fast start from the home side saw the Brewers go close to opening the scoring in just the second minute. A long throw caused confusion in the City defence allowing Sam Hughes to nip in and strike the bar before City cleared the danger.
City’s fluid attacking down the right won their first set-piece in the tenth minute as Niskanen’s deep cross was headed away by Caprice. The corner was taken short before Reece Cole whipped a cross into the box which was easily defended by the home side.
After a period of both sides cancelling each other out, former Grecian Kegs Chauke tested Vil with a low drive in the 17th minute, but it was an easy take for City’s no.1.
City’s first real chance to take the lead came in the twentieth minute as Demetri Mitchell was played in one-on-one with Crocombe. Demi aimed for the corner, but the keeper got a strong hand, palming away for a corner.
This resulting corner sparked several chances for City. Will Aimson powered a header against the post before Niskanen’s follow up was blocked on the line. The ball fell to Jules who fired towards goal, but it was again frustratingly saved on the line!
Both sides countered each other out defensively for most of the half before a quick-fire City counter in the forty second minute saw Mitchell feed Cole, his shot from 25-yards was right at Crocombe who parried away. Harper, who came on for Rankine in the 35th minute put a delightful low cross into the box which Mitchell scooped over the bar from six yards.
On the stroke of half-time, Vil pulled out a stunning save against his former side, getting down low to push away a header inside the box as both sides went in level at the break.
The Grecians were fast out the blocks in the second half as a ball over the top found Trevitt in space, he fired against the legs of Crocombe. Zak Jules was first to the rebound, making space before his cross was deflected out of play.
Just before the hour a loose ball inside the Brewers half was picked up by Mitchell, he powered forward before being hauled down by Burton’s Jasper Moon, who picked up a yellow. The resulting free-kick was on target from Mitchell but down the throat of Crocombe.
Vil was City’s hero again in the 66th minute as he got down low again to push away a low drive from just inside the area from substitute Seddon.
Striker Admrial Muskwe made his Grecian debut in the 67th minute, replacing Zak Jules.
A ‘trademark’ thirty yard run from Alex Hartridge ended with a low drive at the Brewers goal, Crocombe pushed the ball away and Reece Cole tried to head home but the linesman’s flag went up for offside.
The Grecians took the lead in the 75th minute as a quick break down the left saw Hartridge move the ball outside to Mitchell. He cut inside and fed Trevitt who took a touch are fired low into the corner of the Burton net for his second goal of the season, sparking scenes in the away end!
City linked up well down their left in the 85th minute which resulted in Mitchell finding space before he flashed a dangerous cross across the face of the Brewers goal which no-one was able to get on the end of.
The Grecians had a fantastic chance to seal it in added time. Reece Cole’s corner was on the money and Muskwe’s effort was agonisingly just wide of the post.
The Brewers went down to ten with just three minutes on the clock as substitute Seddon received his second yellow for hauling Kyle Taylor down on the break. City held out to record another fine win on the road!
The Grecians are next in action this coming Saturday as they host Leyton Orient in a 3pm kick-off in EFL Sky Bet League One. Click here to buy tickets.
Exeter City XI: Sinisalo; Niskanen, Sweeney, Aimson ©, Hartridge, Jules (Muskwe ’67); Carroll, Trevitt, Cole, Rankine (Harper ’35 Taylor ‘82), Mitchell
Subs not used: Woods, Beardmore, Richards, Taylor, Cox
Yellow: Reece Cole
Burton Albion XI: Crocombe, Brayford ©, Oshilaja, Hughes, Powell, Gordon (Lubala ’61), Moon, Chauke (Baah ‘78) , Helm, Caprice (Seddon ’61) , Hamer
Subs: Blackman, Sweeney, Harper, Walker,
Yellow: Powell, Moon, Seddon
Attendance: 2613 (547 Away)