A head of the visit of Luton Town to St James Park on Tuesday night, Exeter City appeared to have steadied the ship with regards to their league form. Strong away performances at Carlisle and then Wycombe rebuilt some confidence among the Grecians as they sat second in League 2 – some feared a 3-0 thumping at the hands of an inspired Notts County would derail their early success. Luton certainly weren’t low on confidence themselves, coming off the back of a 7-1 mauling of Stevenage to take their unbeaten run to eight in all competitions.
It was Exeter who started the quicker of the two though, and Jayden Stockley almost gave the hosts a dream start as his effort from the edge of the box cannoned off the bar after just ten seconds, with Reuben Reid unable to head home the rebound.
Exeter dominated the early stages of the match, but Luton went ahead against the run of play in the 7th minute as Cornick showed good strength on the right before squaring for James Collins who finished from six yards out. The hosts responded well to going behind though, as first Moxey and then Holmes had half-chances that flashed wide.
“The pressure eventually told”
The pressure eventually told as City got their deserved equaliser in the 21st minute, Jake Taylor latching onto a Stockley flick-on before cutting inside from the left and curling home a sensational strike into the far corner. It was no more than Exeter deserved and it almost got even better six minutes later, as Reuben Reid somehow shanked his volley wide from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
City continued to press on as they pegged Luton back, with Stockley so impressive in the air that the visitors changed formation to add an extra man in the middle of the defence to combat the aerial prowess of the Exeter man possesses. It made little difference however, and in the 43rd minu, e Stockley should have had his goal as he headed wide from a great ball in from Holmes. Luton just about held out for the rest of the half as the sides went in at 1-1, a scoreline that put Exeter top of the table.
Exeter certainly didn’t want the first half to end, but they weren’t too keen on the second half starting judging by the fashion in which they emerged from the break. Luton were immediately on the front foot and just two minutes into the second half took the lead from a corner won straight from kick-off. Hylton went tumbling in the box looking for a penalty, but Dan Potts didn’t wait for a decision as he slammed home to give the visitors the lead.
“the momentum had shifted entirely”
The momentum of the match had shifted entirely and the Luton onslaught continued as they scored again in the 52nd minute. Cornick was once again the creator as he found space on the right hand side before laying it off to Hylton who beat Pym at his near post with a left footed strike.
It got yet better for the 353 travelling Luton fans in the 56nd minute as the visitors made it 4-1, everyone in the ground scarcely able to believe what they were seeing. This time Hylton turned provider, sliding in Collins nicely who picked out an unmarked Cornick in the six yard box to head home past a helpless Pym. In just ten minutes Luton had breathlessly torn apart the City defence and wrapped up all three points.
Exeter never really looked like getting back into the match, with Luton still the more likely to score as they continued to look dangerous on the break. In the 71st minute Hylton fired straight at Pym after a lovely Luton move before Moxey was booked for Exeter two minutes later as he cynically scythed down Cornick as the Luton man broke away looking to score his side’s fifth goal.
To their credit, most of the 3,856 Exeter fans stayed to the bitter end as the Big Bank continued to make themselves heard and they were almost rewarded when McAlinden, who had came off the bench for the hosts, fizzed an effort wide in the closing stages from the edge of the box. 4-1 it would finish, as Luton climbed to the top of League 2 and Exeter were left rueing a disastrous ten-minute spell after halftime.