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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Exeter City 0-0 Robins

16 November 2019

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Cheltenham Town stretched their unbeaten run away from home to five matches in League Two with a battling point at Exeter City.

The Robins rode out the storm in a first half largely dominated by the Grecians but improved in the second period to grind out a goalless draw at St James Park.

Having played two matches in cup competitions since their last League Two fixture, manager Michael Duff made wholesale changes to the side that were knocked out of the Leasing.com Trophy midweek.

With seven changes from Tuesday’s loss against Newport, Duff went with the same starting 11 that faced Forest Green Rovers a fortnight ago, but Will Boyle wasn’t included in the squad due to illness.

After making his debut against the Exiles, Reuben Reid made the bench against his former club alongside plenty of attacking options.

The hosts, missing a number a key players due to injury, matched the Robins up playing 3-5-2 and forced a corner inside the opening five minutes but Aaron Martin headed wide at the back post.

Randell Williams, who had contributed with the most assists in the division so far this season, was a prominent threat in the early stages down the right side and Scott Flinders did well to hold his teasing cross shortly after.

A hopeful long ball through the centre of the pitch then found Grecian striker Ryan Bowman in the 19th minute but he dragged a shot wide of the target when closing down on Flinders’ goal as Matt Taylor’s men continued to look a threat.

Jack Sparkes then forced the Robins ‘keeper to make a tricky save as his long-range effort nearly led to the opening goal in front of the Big Bank Terrace.

Chris Hussey provided the first real chance for Duff’s side, but his low-driven cross was dived on by Jonny Maxted in the Exeter goal before Reilly could get a touch.

The tenacious Williams then robbed Jacob Greaves out wide before failing to pick out an unmarked Alex Fisher as the pressure grew on the visiting goal.

The battle between Williams and Hussey remained the main focus of the match but it was a cross from the other side that nearly resulted in the deadlock being broken as Pierce Sweeney volleyed at Flinders as Cheltenham managed to get into the break level.

It was an instant improvement from the visitors at the start of the second period with some neat touches in midfield as they probed to try and find a way through the stubborn Exeter back-line, as Sean Long’s volley called Maxted into action for the first time.

A nice phase of play then saw Ryan Broom thread Luke Varney through, but Martin made a vital sliding challenge to block his effort deep inside the penalty area.

Penalty shouts were waved away by the referee at the other end as Hussey failed to clear Matt Jay’s diagonal ball and Greaves ushered Lee Martin away from goal as the match approached the 73rd minute.

As Reilly nearly connected with Long's cross at the one end, Williams, who performing well for the Grecians, cut inside and flashed a shot just wide of the top corner.

The Robins failed to seriously test Maxted but nearly snatched the points late on as substitute Alex Addai beat his man and crossed in only for Conor Thomas to place his shot wide as he did the previous week against Swindon.

But Cheltenham did hold on to pick up a valuable away point and a well-earned clean sheet in Devon.

EXETER CITY: Maxted (Gk), Sweeney, Atangana (Tillson 79), Martin, Williams, Bowman, Jay (Woodman 88), Fisher (Lee Martin 63) Moxey ©, Sparkes, Collins.

Subs not used: Visser (Gk), Richardson, Hartridge, Seymour.

ROBINS: Flinders (Gk), Long, Hussey, Tozer ©, Raglan, Thomas, Broom, Reilly (Addai 84), Greaves, Varney.

Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Clements, Reid, Sheaf, Ince, Smith.

Attendance: 4,956 (208 away)

Referee: Alan Young


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