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📝 Match Report: Port Vale 2 Exeter City 4

City collect a comeback win on the road to go 8 unbeaten!

13 April 2024

Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Port Vale 2 Exeter City 4

City collect a comeback win on the road to go 8 unbeaten!

13 April 2024

A brace from Millenic Alli and goals from Zak Jules and Luke Harris complete the Grecians comeback as City came come two goals down at half-time to beat relegation threatened Port Vale.

A trip to Stoke-on-Trent saw Exeter face Port Vale. The Grecians were looking to extend their unbeaten streak to eight matches, as the Valiants were fighting to stay in the league. The reverse fixture at SJP saw Port Vale emerge victorious as they beat City 1-0.


Manager Gary Caldwell named six changes from the side that clinched a draw versus Leyton Orient in the week as Ben Purrington, Yanic Wildschut, Caleb Watts, Luke Harris, Alli, and Cheick Diabate came into the starting XI. Diabate returned to his regular spot in his defence after his ten-minute cameo up top against Orient saw City recover a two-goal deficit. Pedro Borges was on the bench after returning from his loan at Gosport Borough whilst Reece Cole, Pierce Sweeney, and Jack Aitchison all missed the game due to injury. 

The afternoon looked as though it would drag for the travelling Grecians when Ethan Chislett and Baylee Dipepa gave the hosts a two-goal advantage into the break. However, City completely turned the game on its head when they doubled the Valiants’ goal count, scoring four in the second half including a double from Millenic Alli and stunning volleys from both Zak Jules and Luke Harris. 

The Valiants started the game well as the combination of Chislett’s agility and Uche Ikpeazu’s size looked dangerous. On the byline, Ikpeazu ran into the six-yard box before 16-year-old Jake Richards smashed the ball out from under his feet. This wouldn’t be the last time Richards caused Ikpeazu problems as five minutes later he nicked the ball from Port Vale’s number 12 in a move that saw Richards eventually combine with Alli before lashing the ball just wide of the near post. 

Chislett played an impressive ball over the backline to find Ben Garrity behind the defence. With only the keeper to beat, in most cases it would have been a certain goal. But the keeper to beat was Vil Sinisalo. With Richards breathing down Garrity’s neck, Port Vale’s number eight hit the ball low and into the path of the outspread Sinisalo, the game remained goalless. 

15 minutes in, City got their first solid chance as Ryan Woods hit a deep free kick to meet Purrington at the back-post. Purrington came flying in but had his close-range effort saved. Shortly after, a cute moment from Watts saw him spin with the ball to recover it from a looming tackle, then play a sweet cross-field pass to Ilmari Niskanen who eventually lost possession to a strong sliding challenge. 

An unwelcome period of ten minutes saw the hosts take a two-goal advantage. The first, through Chislett who put the Valiants up after half an hour. Port Vale’s corner fell to the edge of the box and Chislett struck it low, through the crowded area, and into Sinisalo’s net. The second, Sinisalo will be disappointed not to have turned away, as Dipepa burst through the back-line and curled one low into the back post. 

City went into the half-time break 2-0 down with work to do against a side who were fighting for their safety in the league. 

A double change at half-time saw Dion Rankine and Jules come on to replace Watts and Purrington. These changes looked to spark some fight back into the City side, and whilst it wasn’t either of the two introductions, the fight was certainly there for Harris who took his frustrations out on a Vale player on the counter-attack, earning himself a yellow card in the process. 

Five minutes into the second half, Wildschut requested to come off the pitch as he felt an injury. Wildschut was replaced by Vincent Harper who came on to the left wing, moving Niskanen across to take Wildschut’s spot. 

In their previous fixture, City came back from two goals behind having scored their first in the 88th minute. In this fixture, they had given themselves more time, as Alli got himself on the score sheet to kick start City’s fight back. The goal came from a moment of fortune as Richards passed the ball out to Alli from a recycled corner. Alli, on the edge of the box, struck the ball goalwards before it clipped Tom Sang and looped over Connor Ripley in goal.  


City then levelled shortly after, courtesy of Jules’ scorcher. City’s corner was flicked on from the danger area to Jules in space, inside the box. Jules, no messing around, smashed it on the volley into the far top corner. City were now level and had plenty of time to complete the comeback... 

And that they did! Keen to add a late contender to City’s goal of the season competition, Harris smashed home a volley from inside the box. The assist was equally as magic though as Pedro Borges flicked the ball over the backline to find Harris in space, behind the backline. City had a cake prepared for their party, having secured safety in the previous fixture, all that was needed was a cherry to go on the top. 

The provider of the cherry was Alli, who scored his second of the afternoon after Niskanen broke through the backline, and simply had the keeper to beat. Many in Niskanen’s position would have gone for goal themselves, but the “nicest man in football” of course had other ideas as he slid the ball across the face to Alli for the easiest chance of the afternoon. 4-2, game over. The comeback was complete, and the Grecians would return to Devon with three points under their belt. 


Exeter City’s next match is away at Northampton on Saturday 20th April at 14.00. 

Exeter City: Sinisalo (GK), Purrington (Jules 46’), Diabate, Aimson (C), Watts (Rankine 46’), Niskanen, Woods, Harris, Richards, Wildschut (Harper 74’), Alli. 

Unused Subs: Macdonald, Jules, Kite, Rankine, Fitzwater, Harper, Borges. 

Port Vale: Ripley (GK), Sang, Smith (C), Garrity, Chislett, Ikpeazu, Ojo, Grant, Lacovitti, Dipepa, Debrah. 

Subs: Leutwiler, Walters, Weir, Plant, Shorrock, Massey, Loft. 

Referee: Marc Edwards. 

Attendance: 6,686 (384) 

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