A first goal for the Grecians for Hiram Boateng and a late penalty from Pierce Sweeney was enough to see Exeter take a significant three points off Accrington Stanley at St James’ Park. The result leaves Exeter still in fourth, but now just one point off Accrington, who currently occupy the last automatic promotion spot.
City manager Paul Tisdale made three changes, with Kane Wilson, Liam McAlinden and Jayden Stockley coming in for Reuben Reid, Kyle Edwards and Craig Woodman, as the Grecians lined up with Sweeney dropping into a more central defensive role, allowing Wilson and Moxey to act as wingbacks in a 5-3-2. And, for the most part, this proved effective; it took just 9 minutes for Exeter to create their first chance, with Jayden Stockley’s strength proving invaluable as he held off his man, allowing the ball to run to Liam McAlinden, but his shot from a tight angle rolled agonisingly wide of the post.
“a mazy run from boateng showed early promise”
Tisdale was then forced into an early change when Troy Brown went down injured, replaced by Troy Archibald-Henville, but it didn’t spark a significant change in the game as just a minute later, Hiram Boateng’s mazy run culminated in a curling effort that was inches away from giving City an early lead. The Grecians went even closer soon after, when a free-kick from Lloyd James was swung into the penalty area and it eventually found its way to Jake Taylor, who smashed a thunderous effort against the bar. After a bright start for the hosts, Accrington gained a foothold in the game, and posed a continuous threat from set-pieces – fortunately, Christy Pym was on hand to deny Hughes first from his header from a free-kick, and then from a corner. The visitors’ best chance of the whole game came after 35 minutes, when another free-kick routine created a chance for Mallik Wilks, but his low driven effort hit the side-netting.
Exeter ended the first half brightly, with McAlinden flicking a header narrowly wide after Moore-Taylor floated a cross in, before scoring to take a deserved lead into the interval. McAlinden was involved again, this time seeing his initial attempt blocked, before Stockley held up the ball well and then picked out Boateng, whose run inside the box was perfectly timed, and perfectly finished, as the 21 year old smashed home past Chapman.
“FOR ALL THEIR POSSESSION ACCRINGTON LACKED PUNCH”
Accrington’s second half display was very similar to the first; no conclusive end product rendering their possession useless. Substitutions were made by Accrington manager John Coleman, but to no avail – the five-man Exeter defence, including substitute Archibald-Henville who answered some of his critics with a composed display, proved impenetrable. Jayden Stockley’s physical presence proved useful in the defensive third for much of the half, doing well to head clear on numerous occasions, but as a unit Paul Tisdale will be delighted with the defensive performance in the second half; the sheer number of bodies behind the ball meant Accrington struggled to threaten Pym.
“SWEENEY ADDED THE GLOSS”
It was even the home side that had the better chances in the second half, as the game opened up in the last ten minutes – first as Boateng’s run created a chance for McAlinden 1v1, before Chapman again denied the striker and then Stockley’s follow up, before the two combined again – this time, McAlinden looked to square to Stockley, leaving him an open goal, but his pass was astray and the chance wasted. The home side were not to be denied, however – Jayden Stockley was clearly pulled back in the area while trying to judge a deep cross after 86 minutes, and Pierce Sweeney stepped up and picked out the bottom corner in the last significant act of the match.
CITY (5-3-2): Pym; Wilson, Moore-Taylor ©, Sweeney, Brown, Moxey; Boateng, James, Taylor; McAlinden, Stockley.
Subs: Hamon, Woodman, Archibald-Henville (Brown 14), Jay, Bryne, Edwards, Reid.
Accrington (3-4-2-1): Chapman; Richards, Hughes, Rawson; Donacien, Brown, Johnson, McConville ©; Jackson, Wilks; Kee.