xeter City’s unbeaten streak came to an end as they fell to a disappointing 3-0 loss away to Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.
City came into the match having performed a meteoric rise up the table, and they sat only six points behind their rivals. Travelling fans would have been delighted to see that Ollie Watkins was fit and ready to play after picking up a knock last week.
Exeter put the pressure on early, with runs down the flanks turning into corners. Still, this pressure never looked as though it was leading to a goal, as Luke McCormick in the Argyle goal looked at ease and survived untroubled.
On the quarter hour mark, instead, it was Plymouth who took the lead. Matty Kennedy, recently acquired from Cardiff City, provided the finish after expertly working his way through the Grecians’ offside trap.
From that point on, it became clear that there was only one side in the match. Argyle continued to press, and Exeter found Ryan Taylor and David Fox to be a continual threat. At one stage, Fox thought that he’d doubled the deficit, yet found referee Simon Hooper had instead given a free kick after Exeter ‘keeper Christy Pym went down in a crowd.
As the halfway stage approached, Grecians fans would have hoped that their side could just ride out the remainder of the storm and regroup after the break. Unfortunately for them, Kennedy managed to pick out Taylor who sent the home fans into raptures with his shot just reaching past the outstretched arm of Pym as the match entered stoppage time.
City, having struggled for large portions of the game, were quickly becoming further unstuck. A late chance for the visitors may have hit the crossbar, but a total and utter inability to work the ball into the box saw Luke McCormick in the Plymouth goal go unchallenged and served as a cause of serious concern for an Exeter team trying to hang on to its 12-match unbeaten run.
Exeter began the second half looking brighter, and with Troy Brown’s effort from close range just about saved by McCormick. Brown would get another chance later with his head, but failing to capitalise by keeping it on target simply thrust Exeter further into trouble. With two goals needed to catch up, Exeter found their early dominance again slipping away with little to show for it.
The Grecians did, though, continue to trade chances with the home side. The best chance of the afternoon came to Reuben Reid, who appeared to have gotten away with being offside yet still headed wide from a Watkins cross despite being completely unmarked in front of goal.
With time ticking away, it became very clear that Exeter simply wouldn’t come away with anything from the match. Substitute Robbie Simpson’s weak headers just never would have been enough to trouble McCormick.
With the match not far off its conclusion, an ugly blight on the afternoon saw several Exeter City fans removed from the crowd, after what appeared to be some crowd trouble within the away end.
Meanwhile, Exeter got themselves into trouble at the back. Christy Pym was adjudged to have taken down an onrushing Antoni Sarcevic, yet the decision was marred by confusion and any contact appeared to be minimal. Pym picked up a card for his troubles, and Jake Jervis stepped up deep into stoppage time to seal the result.
The final whistle simply couldn’t come soon enough for the Exeter contingent, who had come into the match with such hope, yet found their dreams to be dashed by a dire performance.