In what initially seemed an open game, Exeter City were able to control and put away a Swindon side that never threatened to score. 13th place Swindon came to St James Park, with 330 travelling fans hoping for a first victory in four league games. Exeter, on the other hand, aimed to come back from their disappointing 2-2 draw with Yeovil Town last week in front of the 4,506 home fans. With a goal for the hosts in each half and a rock solid performance from their defence, Exeter remain in 2nd place.
The visitors started decently, stringing passes together in midfield but were unable to get past the Exeter defence. Early on, Exeter employed a high press, with both Jayden Stockley and Jonathan Forte doing well to win and hold the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch. This paid off quickly, with Stockley having a good chance 6 minutes in before Forte was able to convert off a long ball in the 15th minute.
After taking the lead, Exeter sat back. While Swindon had the majority of possession, their final ball was severely lacking. Young Swindon right-back Kyle Knoyle won many corners, none of which troubled a resolute Exeter defence, and Marc Richards was unable to make anything against the Exeter centre-backs. Swindon upped the tempo of the game at the end of the first half, but the hosts superbly controlled the game in their own box, not leaving any gaps for Swindon standout Keshi Anderson to exploit.
The pressure was maintained at the start of the second half, but Exeter seemed hungrier than the visitors, getting to every loose ball first. In what was an entertaining portion of end-to-end football, Swindon brought on forwards Alzate and Adebayo in an attempt to play more directly. This allowed Exeter midfielders Hiram Boateng and Nicky Law to push forward, with one of Law’s crosses looping towards the goal barely cleared off the line, before a fantastic cross from Pierce Sweeney was headed in by Stockley for his 9th of the season.
With the game Exeter’s to lose, manager Matt Taylor took off goalscorer Forte for Jordan Tillson. This did not mean Exeter played more defensively – Boateng’s pressure on the Swindon goalkeeper resulted in a loose ball that was met by Sweeney. Sweeney’s cross into the box was once again met by Stockley, who volleyed it brilliantly into the corner of the goal, but he was unfortunately offside.
In the end, Swindon lacked any sort of creativity to break down the Exeter defence, with Exeter winning every ball crossed in. Unfortunately, Exeter substitute Chiedozie Ogbene was injured 2 minutes after coming on, and eventually had to be substituted off. By that point, however, Exeter seemed more likely to grab a third than concede a goal, with another Stockley effort saved well by Swindon’s goalkeeper.
A win and clean sheet in hand leaves Exeter 2nd with 27 points, ahead of Newport County on goal difference.