Exeter City vs Taunton Town
Date: August 21, 2020
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Venue: Cliff Hill Training Ground
Kick Off: 6.00pm
Behind Closed Doors
The Peacocks maintained their unbeaten run in pre-season with a very creditable draw against the League Two side who included in their starting line-up six players who had begun last season’s Play-Off Final against Northampton.
The game, played at City’s training ground behind closed doors, saw the Grecians enjoy much the majority of possession but were unable to turn that into goals as they were frustrated by a combination of wasteful finishing, solid defending, fine goalkeeping by Lloyd Irish and the woodwork.
The hosts nearly made an early breakthrough after only two minutes when Josh Key found Archie Collins inside and he turned to drive against the far post, with Nicky Law unable to steer the rebound on target. It was the Peacocks who drew first blood though when they took the lead after ten minutes. Irish threw out to Jake Wannell and the new centre half’s long ball downfield was latched onto by Toby Holmes who prodded home past advancing keeper Jonny Maxted.
Exeter hit the woodwork for the second time just before the quarter hour mark when Law’s corner was headed out to Ryan Bowman who saw his volley fingertipped onto the bar by Irish. A succession of corners saw City maintain their pressure but Town were defending well and then threatened at the other end after new City recruit Rory McArdle from Scunthorpe United had fouled Gethyn Hill. Unfortunately, Ben Adelsbury’s free kick from the edge of the box deflected off Hill for a goal kick.
Irish made comfortable saves from two Alex Fisher headers as Exeter unsurprisingly continued to see more of the ball. Town were holding their own though, Joe Guest putting Holmes away down the left but after beating his man his cross was gathered by Maxted.
The second half saw the Peacocks begin well, Holmes firing just wide after being set up by Hill. However City continued to be the more menacing going forward. Law fired into the side netting from Collins’ pass, then Fisher’s looping header was caught by Irish who was also quick off his line to block off Key’s attempt. The Town keeper’s best save though came when a Jack Sparkes’ cross from the left was met by Key’s close range header which Irish instinctively palmed the ball away and onto the top of the bar.
Fisher was having the majority of City’s chances, heading over from Sparkes’ cross and then being denied by Irish yet again, his free header being pushed away. Eventually though he beat the Peacocks’ shotstopper, receiving a Collins pass to turn and curl a neat shot into the bottom corner after 75 minutes.
City changed all their outfield players with ten minutes remaining as the game drifted to its conclusion, with each side having two more chances. Sparkes blasted well wide after Luke Spokes had blocked Law’s shot, then Bowman headed the wrong side of the post from Alex Hartridge’s cross for City whilst Owen Howe drove wide from Spokes’ pass and Jay Foulston fired a free kick over for the Peacocks who can take a large number of positives from a hard evening’s work against a pro team from three levels higher.
Taunton: Lloyd Irish, Jake Mawford (Ollie Chamberlain 45), Jay Foulston, Ben Adelsbury (Jordan Copp 66), Nick Grimes (captain), Jake Wannell, Gethyn Hill, Lee Lucas (Callum Watts 73), Toby Holmes (Owen Howe 54), Dan Sullivan (Ross Staley 64), Joe Guest (Luke Spokes 58)
Exeter: Jonny Maxted, Pierce Sweeney (Nicky Ajose 80), Rory McArdle (Harry Kite 80), Tom Parkes (Alex Hartridge 64), Jack Sparkes (Jordan Dyer 80), Josh Key (Louis Morrison 80), Nigel Atangana (Noah Smerdon 80), Archie Collins (Chieck Diabate 80), Nicky Law (captain) (Lewis Wilson 80), Alex Fisher (Will Dean 80), Ryan Bowman (Sonny Cox 80)
Referee: Brett Huxtable (Torrington)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Ciaran Barlow (Salisbury)
Referee’s Assistant 2: Sean Rothwell (Plymouth)