This Saturday saw the first use of the highly anticipated Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand as the Grecians took on the only vegan side in the league, Forest Green Rovers. Forest Green sat just 5 points behind City at kick off with the Grecians aware that a win could see them top of the table.
The game kicked off with both sets in full voice following a minute’s applause for the late City legend Keith Harvey, 83.
The first 10 minutes saw Rovers on top but a weak effort from Carl Winchester from the edge of box was the best of their efforts. This became a common theme of Winchester’s game in a ploy to challenge James Hamon, who was stepping in for the injured Christy Pym.
The game was end to end, but Forest Green were doing well at getting down the flanks, but Luke Croll looked comfortable dealing with the low crosses.
Exeter’s first real chance fell the way of league top scorer Jayden Stockley but his 20-yard effort, but the effort lacked the power to beat Sanchez down to his right-hand side.
Nicky Law had all but scored when he rounded the keeper on the half-hour mark but saw his effort agonisingly trickle along the face of the goal after hitting the inside of the post. This riled the home support and seemingly Tahvon Campbell too who’s late tackle led to Dean Whinstone brandishing the first yellow of the match.
Forest Green continued to be a threat and James Hamon was relieved to see Dayle Grubb’s shot trickle into his hands. A better connection would have surely seen Rovers take the lead with 8 minutes left to the break.
Over-confidence and a lack of ideas may have got the better of in-form Jayden Stockley 3 minutes later with his wild 25-yard volley looking more likely to result in a throw-in rather than an opener.
Forest Green were in the ascendency in the final 5 minutes of the half but for all their intricate play on the edge of the box, they failed to find that crucial final ball as the sides went into the half-time break with scores all square.
A feisty start to the second-half saw Rovers captain Lloyd James pick up a booking for a heavy tackle on Lee Martin.
Forest Green however continued their form from the first half with Reece brown dribbling into the box before curling a beauty into the top corner to give Forest Green a well-deserved lead on 50 minutes.
Rovers remained on the front foot with Grubb the next to have a pop, but his left-footed volley was comfortably caught by Hamon who was growing in confidence in the game.
Matt Taylor was the first to blink as he brought on Matt Jay for Jordan Tillson to provide some fresh legs in midfield. After an uninspiring 10 minutes for Exeter, Taylor brought on a lively looking Tristan Abrahams in a straight swap for Jonathan Forte in the 64th minute.
However, on the 73-minute mark city were dealt a sucker blow with right-back Liam Shephard drilling home a shot into the far corner from the just inside of the right-hand side of the box, leading to the Rovers fans comparing him to Cafu. A change soon followed for the Green Devils Theo Archibald replaced Dayle Grubb on the left wing.
With 10 minutes to go, City began look desperate bringing on Craig Woodman for Nicky Law, as Matt Taylor tried to get captain Jake Taylor into a more advanced position. The only signs of improvement though came in extra-time but both Taylor and Stockley both saw efforts fly over the bar.
The game ended in bizarre circumstances though with Sanchez throwing away his clean sheet letting a loose pass from Aaron Martin through his legs. However it wasn’t enough for City who seemed comfortably beaten by an impressive Forest Green side.