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Exeter City 3, Robins 1 – highlights, reaction and report from St James Park

23 September 2018

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Cheltenham Town slipped to defeat by high-flying Exeter City despite taking the lead at St James Park.

It was Michael Duff's first match in charge on the road and it ultimately ended in frustration after an archetypal 'game of two halves'.

Duff's side fully merited their advantage at the break, given to them by Ryan Broom after an impressive first half showing in which they created the lion's share of chances.

But the side that started the day in second position responded positively after the break and dominated, netting three goals of their own to take all the points and maintain the pressure on league leaders Lincoln City.

Danny Cowley's side visit the Jonny-Rocks Stadium next weekend.

Duff made one change to the side that drew 0-0 with Crewe Alexandra at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium last weekend, swapping Kelsey Mooney with Manny Duku alongside Tyrone Barnett in attack.

The Robins were simply fantastic in the opening 45 minutes, creating all the chances in trying conditions in Devon.

They crafted their first free-flowing move after only five minutes, turning defence into attack. It ended with Jacob Maddox going down in the box but the referee waved away the appeals. It certainly looked close.

Five minutes later Dawson surged down the middle but he was hauled down, giving Ryan Broom the chance to swing in a free-kick from 25 yards. Will Boyle nodded it into the path of Dawson but the midfielder couldn't keep his effort on target at full stretch.

And there was an opportunity in the 18th minute for Barnett after Kevin Dawson had found him with a pinpoint cross from the right, but his striker dropped a foot wide of the left upright.

There were further chances for Dawson from distance and Maddox, who spun inside the box before seeing an effort deflected wide.

At the other end, Johnny Mullins scooped one off the line after Jayden Stockley met a corner from the left with a downward header and Nicky Law had it in the net in first half injury time, although it was chalked off for offside.

But the Robins took the lead through a slick move that Broom started and finished, skipping past a couple of defenders before exchanging passes with Duku and firing home from 10 yards.

Exeter City are not placed second for no reason and responded immediately after the break and were level thanks to a beauty by Pierce Sweeney two minutes after the restart.

Maddox cleared the ball as far as the right back 20 yards from goal and lasered the ball past Flinders.

The home side they proceeded to lay seige to the Cheltenham number one's goal, and the Robins were called into a desperate rearguard action.

Dean Moxey and Hiram Boateng fired menacing balls across the face of goal, although on both occasions they didn't find an Exeter man in the middle.

Then Jayden Stockley's header dropped inches over the bar.

Maddox eased a little of the pressure, drilling a long ranger over from 20 yards and Broom capped a decent run through the middle with a strike from similar distance, although Christy Pym held it.

But there was an inevitability about Exeter's second goal and it was Stockley who claimed it with 10 minutes to play, prodding home at the near post after some good play by Boateng down the left

Jonathan Forte added the third three minutes from time, scoring the 1,000th league goal for the Grecians under the ownership of their supporters' trust after a mistake by Nigel Atangana left him clear to beat Finders.

EXETER CITY (4-4-2): Pym, A Martin, Croll, Moxey, Sweeney; L Martin (Forte 70), Taylor (c), Tillson, Law; Boateng (Collins 90), Stockley. Subs not used: Hamon (Gk), O'Sea, Jay, Oates, Ogbene.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Flinders; Forster, Mullins, Boyle, Alcock (Field 67); Dawson (Kalala 24), Broom, Atangana, Maddox; Duku, Barnett (Jones 62). Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Tozer, Clements, Mooney, Field.

REFEREE: M Salisbury

ATTENDANCE: 3,723 (163 from Cheltenham)

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