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U's Run Ended

21 January 2017

Exeter take the points after 3-0 win

The U's have lost 3-0 at Exeter City.

A Rubin Reid strike opened the scoring on twenty minutes and that was the only goal of the first half at St James Park.

The U's took the game to the hosts in the second half, but were harshly punished at the other end.

Ollie Watkins was at the heart of things, creating two more goals for Exeter, through Wheeler and McAlinden.

The 3-0 scoreline didn't really reflect the game, but it did mean the U's unbeaten run wouldn't continue into a tenth match.

Boss John McGreal had to make a change to his starting line-up, with Owen Garvan picking up a knee injury in training on Friday morning.

Drey Wright came into the eleven, with Craig Slater dropping alongside Tom Lapslie and Wright taking up his place behind the front two.

The U’s started on the front foot and had a corner within forty seconds, but couldn’t force a chance from Craig Slater’s set piece.

Their first chance came after three minutes, with Drey Wright having a shot blocked and put behind for what was the U’s third corner.

Brennan Dickenson was next to try his luck, but Pym in the home goal was alert enough to tip the free kick over the bar.

The U’s had enjoyed the first ten minutes but the hosts got a foothold soon after and didn’t relinquish it for the remainder of the half.

Sam Walker made two saves, one comfortable and one decent, and was certainly the busier of the two keepers as the clock ticked towards twenty minutes.

And it was on twenty when Exeter took the lead through Rubin Reid.

The highly rated Ollie Watkins did all the groundwork, skilfully keeping the ball under pressure before rolling it to the right for Reid to finish confidently across Walker and into the bottom corner.

Wright had another long range shot on twenty one minutes, but it flew well wide of Pym’s goal.

Twice in the space of two minutes, Troy Brown should have extended the lead with headers but on both occasions, headed wide when well placed from corners.

Brennan Dickenson set up Kurtis Guthrie on the half hour mark, but defending was good again and the shot was blocked.

That was the last chance of the half for the U’s, but Dickenson almost gifted the hosts a second goal right on half time.

He tried to play out of his own box but passed straight to Watkins and Frankie Kent and Tom Eastman both dived to get their bodies in the way of the subsequent shot.

The half time whistle went seconds later, and in a game of high quality, the hosts had had the better of things.

The second period started in the same manner as the first, with the U’s on top and attacking Exeter from all angles.

In the fifty first minute, Slater tested Pym, but his shot from just outside the box was comfortable for the Grecians’ keeper.

Five minutes later, A superb ball from Tom Lapslie found Dickenson on the left but from a tight angle, the U’s wingback shot high over the bar.

Dickenson was causing all sorts of problems for Jack Stacey and his next run ended with Chris Porter’s effort being deflected over the bar.

Just after the hour mark, John McGreal made the first change as his side looked for a way through, bringing on Tarique Fosu for Richard Brindley.

Reid could have doubled Exeter’s lead on seventy minutes, but headed over from a wide free-kick.

Three minutes later, Denny Johnstone was bought into the action, replacing Tom Lapslie who looked like he had caught his ankle in a challenge.

With the U’s pushing forward in numbers, they were caught on the break and it was dangerman Watkins who unlocked the U’s defence once more.

His good run set up space in the U’s box and when the ball was played to David Wheeler, it was a straight forward finish into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.

Porter and Guthrie were inches away from a Fosu cross with ten minutes remaining, but it was just one of those days when chances weren’t to be converted for the U’s.

And it got worse for the U’s as the game went into injury time, with sub Liam McAlinden converting past Walker after more terrific running with the ball from Watkins.

The final whistle went a couple of minutes later, with the 3-0 scoreline not reflecting the game at St James Park.

Although the U’s nine game unbeaten run came to an end, they maintained a Play-Off position ahead of their two week break without a fixture. 

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