Exeter City v Cheltenham Town
Reuben Reid brace and Jake Taylor strike gives Grecians victory against Cheltenham Town
Exeter City got back to winning ways on Tuesday night as an energetic performance at St James Park saw them beat struggling Cheltenham Town 3-0.
Reid opened the scoring from the penalty spot and then smashed home a second after the break before a deflected effort from Jake Taylor gave them an unassailable lead with half an hour to play. However, it was a strong defensive performance that will also give the Grecians a lot of heart going into Saturday's battle with promotion rivals Luton Town, with Jordan Tillson putting in a superb display in a holding midfield position in front of an impressive back four.
City manager Paul Tisdale made four changes to the starting XI from the one that lost to Accrington Stanley last time out. In came Jack Stacey, Troy Brown, Tillson and Ryan Harley for Joel Grant, Ollie Watkins, Luke Croll and Pierce Sweeney.
The Grecians deservedly led by a goal to nil at the break after making most of the first half running. They had to wait until the 43rd minute to get in front though as Jake Taylor played a pass to David Wheeler in the box and he rounded Scott Brown before being brought down in the box as the Cheltenham keeper caught his trailing leg. That enabled Reid to step up from 12 yards and fire home his ninth goal of the season.
The goal was a just reward for what had been an energetic and attacking first-half display from City that started with Jake Taylor testing Scott Brown with a looping effort in the opening minutes.
Harry Pell then fizzed a shot just past the post for the visitors after eight minutes, but Gary Johnson's side were content to sit back and to try and hit the home side on the counter.
That saw Lloyd James hit a cross right across the face of the six-yard box and Stacey almost set up Reid with a close-range shot having bustled his way onto the ball on the edge of the area.
The chances kept coming for City with Ryan Harley having a half volley well held by Scott Brown and then hitting a fiercely-struck shot, following a goalmouth scramble, that had to be headed off the line by a Cheltenham defender.
The second-half was only five minutes old when City doubled their advantage. It followed great hold-up play on the wing by Reid on the right wing. That allowed the City striker to play a quick one-two with Jake Taylor before firing a shot from 15 yards across Brown and into the far corner of the net.
Jake Taylor then made it 3-0 on 56 minutes as he hit a shot from 25 yards out that took a deflection off Emannuel Onariase on its way past the wrong-footed Cheltenham keeper Scott Brown.
Moments later Reid was replaced to an ovation from the home crowd and his replacement Ollie Watkins was next to go close for City as he a shot into the side-netting. A minute later Watkins played Wheeler in on goal but, under pressure from Onariase, he wasn't able to get a shot past Brown.
Cheltenham then had their first real effort of the second half with 11 minutes to play as Jack Munns curled and effort towards the top corner, but Olejnik was equal to it tipping it over his crossbar.
The were a couple of nervy moments in the minute that followed as both Moore-Taylor and Stacey had to clear the ball from underneath their own crossbar as the City defence stood firm and they weren't severley tested again in the final minutes of the match.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Olejnik; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Taylor (Oakley, 80), Tillson, James, Harley, Wheeler (McAlinden, 77), Reid (Watkins, 58). Subs not used: Hamon, Grant, Croll, Sweeney.
Cheltenham Town (5-3-2): Brown; Barthram, Onariase, O'Shaughnessy (Munns, 45), Plavotic, Cranston; Pell, Dayton, Winchester (Rowe, 54); Waters, Wooton (Wright, 68). Subs not used: Lovett, Downes, Holman, Davis.
Booked: Onariase, Winchester, Cranston
Attendance: 3,539 (127, away)