Grecians make hard work of their victory against Wycombe
Captain Danny Coles was Exeter City's hero as his superb back heel earned the Grecians a 3-2 victory in an entertaining clash against Wycombe Wanderers at St James' Park last night.
Coles netted his first goal of the campaign midway through the second half when he showed brilliant improvisation with his back to the Wycombe goal. But while it was a welcome three points for the Devonians, they certainly made hard work of getting the win.
However, four points from successive home games is no bad return for Paul Tisdale's side, who now have a few days to rest and recuperate their weary limbs. Last night's win was despite a number of injuries, which are threatening to disrupt City's excellent start to the campaign.
The Grecians were forced into two changes from the side that drew with York on Saturday. Liam Sercombe and John O'Flynn were both injured, so there was a League debut for Jimmy Keohane and Tommy Doherty, the former Chairboy, beefed up the Grecians' midfield in Sercombe's absence.
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The Grecians started with the kind of purpose that manager Paul Tisdale said they lacked on Saturday. But after an unfortunate slip by Matt Oakley, as the Grecians were attacking, they found themselves behind.
Wycombe worked the ball wide to Ainsworth and his shot took a huge deflection, leaving Artur Krysiak wrong-footed and the ball nestled in the net.
It could have been two moments later, but Danny Coles headed Joel Grant's goal-bound header off the line.
To be fair to City, they did not let the blow of an early goal unsettle them and they stuck to their principles. Keohane almost marked his debut with a stunning goal, but his vicious long-range volley was straight at Elliot Parish. Either side of him and it would have been in.
Jamie Cureton did have the ball in the net after some lovely build-up play, but his joy was short-lived as the linesman flagged for a narrow offside.
However, City finally got the goal their play deserved on 28 minutes. Doherty played a superb ball wide to Oakley, who in turn passed to Cureton. His dummy allowed the ball to run to Keohane, who knocked it on to Davies. The winger cut inside and onto his right foot before firing a low shot into the net.
Wycombe looked a poor side and defensively vulnerable. Cureton pulled a shot wide from 25 yards as Exeter looked to capitalise, but they were being frustrated by the Chairboys' time-wasting tactics.
One free kick in particular took in excess of 40 seconds to take, but the referee – rather annoyingly – failed to clamp down. The one minute of stoppage time was met with howls of derision from the partisan home crowd.
You got the feeling that if Exeter stepped it up a gear, Wycombe were there for the taking, but six minutes into the second half – and from an Exeter corner – the Chairboys scored.
Woodman's corner was poor and straight at Parish, whose distribution was swift. He set Joel Grant scampering clear and his cross was nodded in at the back post by Dean Morgan.
However, the lead lasted just two minutes. Amankwaah challenged well and the ball broke for Cureton 15 yards out. He still had some work to do, but turned an unleashed a fine shot that flew past Parish.
Scot Bennett saw a shot deflect over from distance and from the resulting corner kick, the Grecians went in front.
Davies' corner kick was headed back across goal by Keohane and landed at the feet of Coles. The City captain had his back to goal, but showed brilliant initiative to cooly back heel the ball into the corner.
Wycombe responded with a shot by Matt Parsons, which took a wicked deflection. Krysiak did well to parry it and keep the Grecians' lead intact, but rather ominously for Exeter the game was very open.
Jo Kuffour came on for Wycombe and his pace began to cause Exeter a few concerns. However, City were not helping themselves with the conceding of several free kicks inside their own half.
Stuart Lewis dragged a shot wide of goal for Wycombe before Cureton left the field to a standing ovation. He was replaced by Tom Nichols, called back from his loan spell at Hereford United, such is the extent of the Grecians' injury crisis.
Keohane soon followed him off the pitch – to be replaced by Steve Tully – but the former Bristol City youngster could be well pleased with an impressive debut. The Irishman was involved in two of the Grecians' three goals.
Four minutes of added time were all that were left between the Grecians and three hard-earned points and there was just enough time for Jacob Jagger-Cane to be handed his debut as Exeter took it upon themselves to waste a few seconds. By then, Wycombe's fight had gone.
Exeter City (4-4-1-1): Krysiak; Amankwaah, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Oakley, Bennett, Doherty (Jagger-Cane 90), Davies; Keohane (Tully 85); Cureton (Nichols 81). Substitutes (not used): Evans (gk), Moore-Taylor, Frear, Jagger-Cane, Chamberlain, Nichols.
Goals: Davies 28, Cureton 54, Coles 67.
Booking: Coles, Doherty.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Parish; Foster, Winfield, Doherty, Parsons; Ainsworth (Kuffour 71), Lewis, Spring, Grant (Angol 84); Logan, Morgan (Taylor 84). Substitutes (not used): Basey, Dunne, Thompson, Kewley-Graham.
Goals: Ainsworth 4, Morgan 52.
Referee: L Collins (Surrey)