League One Exeter emerged as comfortable winners at Wordsworth Drive to impose Town’s first pre-season defeat. The Peacocks though can take heart from an industrious display as they created several chances but were unable to get past Gary Woods in the City goal.
Fielding a strong starting line-up which included new season-long loan signing Malachi Linton, the hosts had to contend with a confident start from the Grecians. An early shot deflected safely to Town keeper Dan Lavercombe who could do little to prevent City from gaining an early advantage after eight minutes, Demetri Mitchell moving in from the right to post a left-footed strike which took a pronounced deflection off a Town defender to loop over Lavercombe into the net.
After the visitors’ initial dominance, the Peacocks began to gain a foothold, with new boy Linton’s heavy touch preventing better reward following a great run from Zac Smith who was then upended on the corner of the box but the free kick from Lee Lucas was straight at Woods. City should have added another ten minutes before the break when a spell of possession down the right ended with Pierce Sweeney’s cross being glanced comfortably wide by skipper Sam Nombe before Town’s best chance of the half arrived on 39 minutes, Dave Sims-Burgess laying the ball off to Linton who forced his way into the box, only for Woods to stand firm and block his effort.
Late City pressure just before the break earnt three corners which proved fruitless while Sims-Burgess did well at the opposite end to win the final corner of the half. Exeter took only two minutes of the second period though to strengthen their lead when a corner wasn’t cleared and fell to Nombe facing the wrong way around six yards out and his back-heeled attempt found the corner. Smith saw another effort held by Woods after Nick Grimes had headed down a Lloyd James corner, but City were beginning to flow, Nombe having a strike deflect wide and Ryan Trevitt curling a shot narrowly past the post. Brentford loanee Trevitt then added a third goal on 58 minutes, steering a left-wing cross into the roof of the net.
Cameron Evans got on the end of a James corner to see his header get a sniff of the crossbar as it bulleted over as Town remained out of luck. Back to the other end with Mitchell diverting a driven cross from the right over the top before a plethora of substitutions around the hour gave the stats man a headache, especially with the Grecians having no numbers on their shirts. City won that switch 7 subs to 3 but not the final quarter of the game in which the hosts pressed forward. Smith fed Linton who still managed a prodded effort at goal despite having three defenders on him before another shooting opportunity was held by Woods. Half time sub Dylan Morgan also engineered some good positions but couldn’t get a shot away while trialist Marcus Day saw a late strike gathered by Woods. A timely test for Town against strong opposition and just what was required ahead of what will be a demanding season.
Taunton: Dan Lavercombe, Nick Grimes (captain), Ollie Chamberlain, Lloyd James (Callum Dolman 61), Joe Guest (Dylan Morgan 45), Austen Booth, Zac Smith, Cameron Evans, Dave Sims-Burgess (Marcus Day 61), Malachi Linton, Lee Lucas (Rabby Tabu 61). Unused subs: Nat Jarvis, Lloyd Irish
Exeter: Gary Woods, Gabe Billington (Pierce Sweeney 30), Cheick Diabate (Will Aimson 60), Alex Hartridge (Ed James 61), Dion Rankine (Mitch Beardmore 61), Tom Carroll (Reece Cole 45), Ryan Trevitt (Joe O’Connor 61), Max Edgecombe (Vince Harper 30), James Scott (Jack Aitchison 61), Demetri Mitchell (Pedro Borges 61), Sam Nombe (captain) (Sonny Cox 61)
Referee: Daniel Lamport (Swindon)
Referee’s Assistant 1: Mark Russell (Bristol)
Referee’s Assistant 2: David Middleton (Watchet)
“I thought it was a really good-timed test that we needed to be pushed by a proper League One side……” watch Rob Dray’s Match Reaction on Peacocks TV HERE
Match highlights to follow