Hartlepool v Exeter City
City suffer first defeat in five with 3-1 loss at Hartlepool United
Exeter City fell to their first defeat in five games as they surrendered a goal advantage away at Hartlepool United.
The Grecians had led through a superb goal from Ollie Watkins, but conceded an equaliser midway through the half and then had a strong penalty appeal turned fown in the build up to Hartlepool's second goal of the match. The home comeback was then completed in injury-time as Lewis Alessandra fired home.
City manager Paul Tisdale named an unchanged team from the side that had beaten Crawley Town 2-1 on Tuesday night.
On the back of a confidence-boosting 4-0 win over Crewe Alexandra last time out, Hartlepool started the match brightly with Nathan Thomas breaking down the left and playing in Alessandra.
However, the former Argyle midfielder’s first shot was blocked by Troy Brown and his follow-up effort comfortably saved by Bobby Olejnik.
City then had a glorious chance to take the lead after 10 minutes as Lloyd James clipped a ball into the area that David Wheeler flicked on for Reuben Reid to hit a first-time volley on target. His effort was superbly blocked by Joe Fryer, but the rebound looped into the path of Wheeler five yards out and he looked certain to tap the ball into an empty net. However, his first-time volley, from six yards, rattled the crossbar and was then headed to safety by Brad Walker.
Three minutes later though, City had their goal as Ollie Watkins picked the ball up on the right, produced a stepover and then drilled a shot past Joe Fryer from 20 yards.
Wheeler then broke into the area midway through the half, but his ball across the face of the goal was too far in front of Reid for him to get a simple tap-in at the back post.
After that spell of dominance, Hartlepool started to get back into the match with Thomas causing problems on the left. However, defending in two banks of four, City were able to limit them to very few shots at goal as the home crowd began to get frustrated by misplaced passes and some refereeing decisions that went against them.
The second half started reasonably slowly in terms of goalmouth action with only an Amond header, from close-range, troubling Olejnik before the hour mark and he comfortably gathered that effort.
However, after Troy Brown and Watkins went close to making it 2-0 with headers from corner, the hosts struck back. Again it was Thomas who proved a nuisance down the right and as his cross was headed out of the six-yard box Alessandra was in the right place to volley the rebound into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later and Hartlepool were in front, although their goal had a huge slice of good fortune about it. City were left upset as Watkins appeared to have been upended in the area, but as they were appealing for a penalty the home side broke up the field and found Amond on the edge of the box who smashed a shot into the top corner of Olejnik's net.
City brought on Joel Grant and Pierce Sweeney from the bench and switched to a 3-4-3 formation to try and change things, but the result was wrapped up in injury-time when the ball broke to Alessandra on the edge of the box and he drilled home to give Dave Jones' team a two-goal advantage and all three points.
Hartlepool United: Fryer; Donnelly, Walker, Harrison, Kavanagh; Featherstone; Woods (Hawkins, 57), Alessandra, Oates (Hawkes, 90), Amond; Thomas. Subs not used: Bartlett, Bates, Orrell, Rooney, Richardson.
Exeter City: Olejnik; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman (Sweeney, 86); Taylor (Grant, 78), James; Wheeler, Watkins, Harley; Reid (McAlinden, 65). Subs not used: Hamon, Archibald-Henville, Tillson, Croll.
Attendance: 3,775 (166, away)