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Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Exeter City 1 Burton Albion 0

City earn another three points!

16 March 2024

Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Exeter City 1 Burton Albion 0

City earn another three points!

16 March 2024

It is back to back wins and clean sheets for Gary Caldwell's Exeter City, as they overcame Burton Albion in a feisty encounter at SJP.

City took the lead in the first half courtesy of a rocket from Reece Cole. Then, down to ten-men in the second, City successfully held their clean sheet for a 1-0 win.

Hot off the back of a resounding victory away at Shrewsbury Town, City returned home to SJP to face Burton Albion, another side in a similar league position to The Grecians. Before kick-off, City were five points ahead of Burton, although The Brewers had a game in hand, so this fixture promised to be a close one. 

Manager Gary Caldwell named two changes to the side that beat Shrewsbury as Yanic Wildschut and Tom Carroll replaced Vincent Harper and Ryan Woods. Burton’s side included former Grecians, Rekeem Harper and Jake Caprice with Jamal Blackman on the bench. 

Caprice picked up a yellow inside two minutes as he brought Wildschut down on the edge of the box. The subsequent free-kick was hammered low and hard into the crowd in the box, but no City player could guide it home as the ball was cleared away. Shortly after, SJP thought that Ilmari Niskanen had put the ball on a plate for Luke Harris, but the ball took a bobble as Harris sent it flying into St James Road. 


City’s dominant attack continued as Wildschut enjoyed having his counterpart both on a yellow card and on a slippery pitch as he sent Caprice to the floor on a couple of occasions. Wildschut put the ball in the danger zone on both occasions but again, no City player was able to turn. The Grecians were almost made to pay for not making their dominance count as, at the other end, The Brewers almost put the ball in the net, if it were not for Will Aimson’s goal line heroics. 

The injured Pierce Sweeney was replaced by Cheick Diabate, having continued to play for ten minutes after receiving treatment.  

Following a flat period of the game, City found a burst of energy to break the deadlock through Cole. Jack Aitchison played a cute reverse pass to Niskanen on the right-wing, as the Finn darted towards the byline, Cole floated into the box with plenty of space for Niskanen to play the ball into. Niskanen’s pass was inch perfect, allowing Cole to smash it as he ran onto it, the ball flew past Max Crocombe and almost took the net off. City were ahead and cruised towards half-time. 

Whilst City took an advantage into the break, they would come back out of it in a less fortunate position as Zak Jules was given a red card following an incident in the tunnel. As Jules was sent for an early bath, Ben Purrington came on to replace Wildschut and shore up the defence. 

Ten-man City did not look content with a one-goal lead as they continued to attack confidently when the game restarted. Now attacking towards the Big Bank, City looked the most likely to score next. Cole’s effort from well outside of the box sawed just wide of the goal: a warning shot to the Brewers who may have thought they’d have an easier game in the second half. 

Burton’s Antwoine Hackford appeared to be clean through on goal, and Sinisalo was bracing to make a very important save, but Niskanen was bearing down on the Burton attacker and slid in as Hackford shot. Niskanen did not get a touch on the ball, but his presence was enough to put off Hackford as he skewed his shot wide, and City stayed ahead.  

Burton captain, John Brayford’s shot from inside the box smacked the crossbar as City began to ride their luck. Despite this close shave, City continued to pressure Burton as new introductions, Millenic Alli, Ryan Woods, and Dion Rankine bolstered the Grecian attack. A hot-headed moment saw City’s goalscorer, Cole earn himself a yellow as he took issue with a heavy challenge on Niskanen.  

St James Park became a cauldron of noise as the game entered the first of eight additional minutes. The atmosphere became electric as it started to look like City were going to successfully defend their lead and win the game having played half of it with ten men. One moment that particularly riled up the supporters was when Caldwell received a yellow for questioning the referee’s decision to pull play back for Alli’s alleged foul on the Burton defender when he otherwise would have been in a one-on-one against Crocombe. 


City began to take their attacks to the corner flag, as the strength of Alli, the skill of Rankine, and the raw passion of Luke Harris meant City could continue to threaten the Burton defence. A misplaced Burton pass sent the ball out for a throw to a massive roar from onlookers. City had done it. The ref blew his whistle one last time and City had earned themselves another clean sheet and another three points.  
Finishing the afternoon in 15th position and with a 12-point cushion to the drop zone, there was a  sense of joy in SJP. A real sense of optimism filled the ground as the City supporters had just watched their men play half a game with ten men and walk away unscathed. 

Exeter City’s next match follows the international break and is at home against Charlton Athletic. Friday 29th March, 3pm @ St James Park. 

Exeter City: Sinisalo (GK), Jules, Aimson, Sweeney (Diabate 34’), Wildschut (Purrington 46’), Niskanen, Cole, Carroll (Woods 76’), Harris, Aitchison (Rankine 76’), Cox (Alli 72’). 

Unused Subs: Macdonald, Eisa. 

Burton Albion: Crocombe, Brayford (C), Oshilaja, Sweeney, Powell, Harper, Helm, Caprice, Bola, Hamer, Hugill. 

Subs: Blackman, Seddon, Kamwa, Ola-Adebomi, Carayol, Gilligan, Hackford.  

Referee: Martin Woods 

Attendance: 6188 (128 away) 

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