A young Exeter City side were eliminated at the first hurdle of this season’s Devon St Luke’s Bowl as Crediton United AFC ran out 3-2 winners in an eventful contest at the Lords Meadow Ground.
The Grecians began proceedings on top, and it didn’t take long for them to create their first opening as captain for the evening, Pedro Borges, tried his luck from distance, however, it was tipped over by United goalkeeper Jack Arthur.
Alfie Cunningham forced another good save from Arthur early on, but in the sixth minute, the bright Exeter start was rewarded with a breakthrough. A corner came in from the left, and Tom Dean, at the far post, diverted the ball over the goal line for 1-0.
Nicky Ajose, taking charge of the City team, would have been happy with his player's fast start, and they looked relatively comfortable despite creating no further chances in the opening quarter.
The possession and territory belonged largely to the visitors, and in the 27th minute, a nice combination from Mitch Beardmore and Cunningham led to the former firing in a low cross towards the six-yard box. Borges stretched for the ball, but he could only find the outside of the post.
The Grecians continued to look dangerous down the flanks, and just before the interval, Max Edgecombe advanced down the left. The full-back’s cutback was scrambled away by some desperate Crediton defending, but they came away unscathed, meaning it remained a one-goal game as the half-time whistle blew.
A spirited home side took to the field after the break and they fired the first shot of the second period over the crossbar through Dave Lee.
In the 57th minute, the Exeter advantage was doubled after a display of patient and precise build-up play. Aamir Stanford-Daniels received the ball on the right-hand side, before he cut in and got himself into a shooting position. Despite Arthur’s best efforts, the low effort trickled into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
But United displayed some character, and came up with an instant response in the game’s next highlight a minute later. The ball fell for former City winger, Nelson Iseguan, who kept his composure to tuck the ball beyond Shaun MacDonald to halve the deficit.
That helped shift the momentum, and Sam Stapleton’s deflected effort whistled just past the post on the hour mark.
Harvey Dorothy glanced a header just wide on 68 minutes, but moments later, the same player managed to level the scores as he rose highest to head the ball into the back of the net to set up a thrilling finale.
Ajose looked to his bench to try and snatch back the impetus for his team. On came Santino Ohanaka, Liam Oakes and Rafa Beadman as both clubs looked to try and win the tie in regulation time.
After 77 minutes, the away team should have retaken the lead after some bright wing play led to a low ball into the danger area. Borges reacted quickest to the cross, but the midfielder failed to hit the target from close range.
Borges looked to make it his own personal mission to send his side through, and the skipper latched onto a Giulio Marroni pass in the 86th minute to try and snatch a winner, however, his 20-yard effort was well blocked.
The contest became stretched, and MacDonald had to be at his best to deny Dorothy just as the clock ticked into stoppage time.
Ohanaka appeared to be full of running following his introduction, and he was agonisingly close to scoring in the third extra minute when he advanced down the right wing. He dribbled into the box, but the replacement was just unable to dink his shot over the advancing ‘keeper as he closed in on goal.
With both sides throwing men forward deep into injury time, it was Crediton who scored the match’s fifth goal of the evening when a defensive slip on halfway gave the home attack a lot of space to work in. The ball was moved onto Dorothy, and he fizzed a strike goalward, which gave Macdonald little chance as the deflection took the effort inside the post to send the United into the hat for the competition’s second round.
Crediton United AFC: Jack Arthur, Aidan Whitfield, Kieran Knight, Dave Lee, Dre Johnson, Kevin Pike, Lukie White, Harvey Dorothy, Harry Warren, Nelson Iseguan, Sam Stapleton
Subs: Shay Corrick, Adam Bilcock, Alfie Down, Louis Stephens, Aaron Hale
Exeter City: Shaun MacDonald, Aamir Stanford-Daniels, Max Edgecombe, Scott Simmons, Sam Joce, Tom Dean, Giulio Marroni, Pedro Borges, George Birch, Alfie Cunningham, Mitch Beardmore
Subs: Liam Oakes, Rafa Beadman, Santino Ohanaka