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Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Exeter City 1 Charlton Athletic 1

29 March 2024

Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Exeter City 1 Charlton Athletic 1

29 March 2024

Exeter City were held to a 1-1 draw at St James Park on Good Friday after a late, unfortunate own goal denied City all three points.

A bright start from the Grecians saw Ben Purrington give City an early lead. The game then fell quiet as City put together a defensive masterclass to deny Charlton for the next 80 minutes before Chuks Aneke’s header equalised for the Addicks off the chest of Cheick Diabate.


Following the final international break of the season, Exeter City began the run in with a home game against Charlton Athletic. One position and two points separated the sides going into this fixture as a win would see City create a five-point gap between themselves and the Addicks. 

Manager Gary Caldwell named two changes to the side that beat Burton before the international break. Purrington replaced the suspended Zak Jules whilst Ryan Woods replaced Reece Cole to partner Tom Carroll in the midfield. 

City started superbly and dominated the opening five minutes, keeping the ball in the Charlton third for most of the period. Enjoying their Good Friday in the sun, each and every City player was playing delightful, free-flowing football.  

City found the opener in the sixth minute as Purrington, a former Charlton man, dealt the opening blow to the Addicks as he headed in from close range. The goal came from a recycled corner, which eventually fell to Carroll on the right-wing. Carroll whipped a delightful ball deep into the Charlton back-post and Purrington rose the highest to head home. A glorious start to the afternoon for the Grecians. 


The opening goal appeared to wake up Charlton as City’s period of dominance came to an end and the pace of the game slowed down. The next decent chance of the game came for Charlton as a big save was forced from Vil Sinisalo in front of the Big Bank. A long-range effort was rifled high towards Sinisalo, and looked as though it would smack the underside of the bar, had it not been for the strong hand of Sinisalo to keep City ahead. 

The energy was sapped from the game, although City wouldn’t be complaining as they headed into the break one-goal to the good. What appeared to be a comfortable finish quickly became uncomfortable as Charlton had the ball over Sinisalo and goal-bound before goalscorer, Purrington pulled off a goal-line clearance that could fairly be described as “as good as a goal at the other end”. Ben’s heroics were the final moments of the first half. 

Charlton were on the front-foot in the opening minutes of the second half and could well have levelled if it weren’t for an incredible last-ditch challenge in the area from Pierce Sweeney to deny Freddie Ladapo. Sweeney felt the challenge and stayed down for a short while after but eventually recovered and fortunately was able to continue. 

Purrington came up trumps again as his sliding challenge in the area denied a clear-cut shooting opportunity for Charlton. City’s attacking in the opening phases of the game was impressive, but it was their defending that would win them this game. 

Just as City were building momentum in the game again, Caldwell made his first changes of the afternoon as Dion Rankine and Millenic Alli came on to replace Yanic Wildschut and Jack Aitchison. Minutes later, Diabate and Mo Eisa came on to replace Purrington and Sonny Cox. Onlooking Grecians would be hoping that the four pairs of fresh legs would make the difference as the game entered an uncomfortable phase. 

With ten minutes remaining of normal time, an uncomfortable atmosphere filled SJP. Whilst City were on the attack, the looming threat of an Addick counterattack remained constant. Caldwell’s final change of the afternoon saw Reece Cole replace Luke Harris. 

An incredibly unfortunate turn of events saw Charlton draw level through a Diabate own goal. Aneke rose the highest to meet Tyreeq Bakinson’s cross in what appeared to be an unthreatening position as Sinisalo had it covered. Aneke’s header misfired towards Diabate, who could do nothing about the ball bouncing off his chest and into the City net.  

The game was now level and very much in the balance as both sides felt they could find the winner in the additional seven minutes that had been indicated by the fourth official.  

Charlton came the closest as League One’s leading goalscorer, Alfie May found himself one-on-one with Sinisalo. Sinisalo made himself big and forced May to take it round him, which he did, and then found himself at too acute an angle to squeeze it in as his shot smacked the near post. City looked to counter from this, although their efforts only ended in an unfruitful corner.  

The game ended 1-1, which in the end was a fair reflection of the game, as the sides shared the points.  

Exeter City’s next match is away at Whaddon Road Ground as they face Cheltenham Town on Monday 1st April at 15.00. 

Exeter City: Sinisalo (GK), Niskanen, Sweeney (C), Aimson, Purrington (Diabate 77’), Wildschut (Rankine 70’), Carroll, Woods, Aitchison (Alli 70’), Harris (Cole 85’), Cox (Eisa 77’). 

Unused Subs: MacDonald, Fitzwater. 

Charlton Athletic: Isted, Hector, Thomas, Gillesphey, T. Watson, Coventry, Dobson (C), Anderson, Small, May, Kanu. 

Subs: Maynard-Brewer, Ness, Edun, Bakinson, Campbell, Ladapo, Aneke. 

Referee: Declan Bourne

Attendance: 8,088 (1,223 away) 

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