Cheltenham Town suffered a first home defeat of the Sky Bet League Two season as Exeter City battled back to claim a 4-3 victory at the LCI Rail Stadium.
The Robins made a flying start on home soil with two well taken goals inside 12 minutes by Kevin Dawson – making his full home league debut.
But two quick-fire goals from the Grecians before the interval saw the game firmly back in the balance.
A red card for Jamie Grimes with 13 minutes left – and resulting penalty scored by Reuben Reid – put the Robins behind for the first time before another Exeter goal looked to send them out of sight.
Dan Holman grabbed a fine goal in injury time, however, there was to be no late comeback for the home side who must now re-group before next week’s visit of Stevenage.
The Robins started like a house on fire and were ahead on eight minutes when Mo Eisa burst cross the halfway line and fed Carl Winchester who measured an inch perfect cross for Dawson to guide home.
Four minutes later the same double act repeated the feat as Winchester was given acres of space to pick his cross and Dawson was left unmarked to tap in.
Dawson was enjoying an electric opening quarter as he tussled in the box after Harry Pell’s cross and fired a rasping shot over the bar.
Exeter slowly regrouped and Moore-Taylor headed wide from a corner while Liam McAlinden fired over the top of Jonathan Flatt’s bar.
The Robins still posed a real threat and only a superb clearance from Moore-Taylor denied the visitors as Kyle Storer whipped a cross in with menace before Nigel Atangana hit a rising drive over the target.
Jordan Cranston’s then produced a peach of a cross field ball to release Eisa and his inch perfect pass found the on-rushing Dawson who saw his low shot saved by Pym.
Exeter were back in the game seven minutes before the interval with a moment of real quality as Moore-Taylor curled a stunning effort into the top left corner.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, the visitors were level as a high ball into the box fell to Reid who could make no mistake from six yards out.
Cheltenham looked to retake the ascendancy at the start of the second half with Pell dragging a shot across goal while Danny Wright was introduced and immediately tested Pym’s handling.
Exeter striker Reid again came close, as he swivelled to meet a knock-down but volleyed inches wide, while at the other end Wright brushed off one tackle but found the side netting.
The decisive moment came 13 minutes from time when Grimes was adjudged to have pulled back Taylor and he was red carded before Reid stepped up to send Flatt the wrong way from the spot.
Seconds later the game was all but over as Taylor broke clear, with the numerical advantage showing, and confidently slotted the ball across Flatt and into the far corner.
Late hope saw substitute Hollman brush past tackles and poke the ball under Pym, but there was to be no late salvation.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: Flatt; Winchester, Forster (O’Shaghnessy 70), Grimes, Cranston; Pell, Atangana, Storer (c), Dawson (Holman 79); Eisa, Graham (Wright 53). Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Bower, Thomas
EXETER CITY: Pym; Sweeney, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Taylor, Tillson, James, Holmes; Reid (Simpson 88), McAlinden (Jay 90). Subs not used: Hamon (Gk), Archibald-Henville, Brunt, Croll, Sparkes
REFEREE: A Backhouse
ATTENDANCE: 3,168 (774 from Exeter)
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