A wet St James’ Park laid host to a struggling Forest Green Rovers who fell short against Playoff hopefuls Exeter City.

The Grecians have been on somewhat of a run lately and have finally broken their poor away form that saw them win just four on the road during the first half of their campaign. After an inspired performance against contenders Notts County last weekend, Paul Tisdale opted to stick with the same outfit that emerged victorious in a 2-1 win.

With this being the 5th meeting between the two sides due to Cup ties and a waterlogged SJP, both were familiar with each other’s styles. However, the transfer of out-of-favour striker Reuben Reid to Rovers from City certainly shook things up, with the striker seemingly on better form with the Stroud outfit.

“fgr had come to play”

The in-form Christian Doige was also a threat to City’s lightweight defence with 12 goals already under his belt this season, thus the pairing of Troy Archibald Henville and Moxey seemingly had their work cut out for them. Beginning the half, it was clear that Forest Green had come to play football, with everything flowing through the effervescent Dayle Grubb; Rovers dominated possession and could have been ahead on the 18th as Wishart raced past his marker but pulled his shot agonisingly wide of the right hand post.

City’s midfield, though technically gifted, seemed absent throughout the first half as Ryan Harley and Jordan Tillson failed to nullify the efforts of Grubb, however, there was the occasional spark from the Grecians as Holmes had the best chance of the half on the 22nd as he burned past Hollis but failed to hit the target.

“holmes provided a spark”

Forest Green continued to dominate possession in the first half but failed to actually get any sort of shot off, instead preferring to prowl around the City box as the Grecian’s looked to muster a rare counter attack. It’s a tired cliché, but the match was truly one of two halfs, in most part due to the inclusion of Kyle Edwards after Harley felt a slight niggle. Edwards, the deserved Man of the Match, immediately fired in a cross for an onrushing Jayden Stockley who failed to hit the target from close range. From his next chance though, City’s top scorer didn’t make the same mistake and as Edwards beat his man after lazy marking from the returning Reid, the Grecian talisman was on hand to tap the ball into the net for an easy finish five minutes into the second half.

City seemed to have all the momentum at this point and could have easily gone 2-0 up in as any minutes as Lloyd James’ weak effort was cleared off the line; just three minutes later though, City had their reward as the uncontainable Edwards was brought to the ground by a lacklustre Dale Bennet. Pierce Sweeney was reliable as ever from the spot and City were 2-0 up.

“a potent 10 minute spell”

Forest Green seemed crushed after this ten minute spell of City dominance as their fans grew increasingly hostile, with the substitution of marksman Doige, cries of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ were aimed at Mark Cooper. Pierce Sweeney was impressive throughout the rest of the half with a notable moment occurring on the 78th when he charged down a Rovers ball on the halfway line and chased his opposite man halfway down the pitch to win some vital territory for the Reds.

The remainder of the match played out prosaically, with Rovers never really looking like posed any true danger to Christy Pym’s goal and Exeter ran out 2-0 winners. A special mention has to go to Kyle Edwards for a scintillating performance that should play Paul Tisdale’s hand in the future, a great win for the Grecians and a big boost to any ambitions for automatic promotion. MOTM: Kyle Edwards Attendance: 3,382 (117 Away)

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