BURTON ALBION 1 EXETER CITY 0
Another defeat, another game without a goal and another performance where Exeter City never really looked like scoring. Last night’s 1-0 defeat at Burton Albion gave further evidence towards fears that this is going to be a long and arduous season for the Grecians.
Stuart Beavon scored the only goal of the game, but the Brewers were good value for a League Two win which could have been by a far bigger scoreline had it not been for several superb saves by young goalkeeper Christy Pym.
The 19-year-old did not have the best of days in the derby defeat at Plymouth, but turned in a superb display at the Pirelli Stadium. But it is at the other end where City’s problems lie. Two shots on targets in 90 minutes told its own story and the Grecians have managed only one goal in their opening three League Two fixtures.
With Tom Nichols out injured, Graham Cummins came in for his full debut. Other than that, though, manager Paul Tisdale kept faith with the side that lost at Plymouth on Saturday. The Grecians were blown away in that first half at Home Park and a repeat at Burton was simply not an option.
They very nearly made the worst start imaginable. Lucas Akins’ shot deflected to John Mousinho and his instinctive volley was brilliantly saved one-handed by Pym. The former Brentford man then sent another volley fizzing towards goal, but Pym was again equal to it.
Akins fired a shot wide, but the best chance fell to Exeter on 12 minutes. Cummins latched onto a poor back-header by Robbie Weir, but he shot straight at Jon McLaughlin, who was off his line quickly.
Akins drilled another fierce shot goalwards from 18 yards that Pym again saved well, but the young goalkeeper saved his very best for the 29th minute when Akins’ header looked in all the way, but he got across goal to make a sensational one-handed save.
An Exeter counter ended with Cummins firing high over the bar, but four minutes before the break a long throw into the box was headed clear by Matt Oakley, but only as far as Beavon, who lashed a first-time volley beyond Pym for what turned out to be the winning goal.
It was another half where the Grecians again failed to really threaten the home goal, with Cummins’ chance their only effort on target. And with five defenders strung across the back line, you simply cannot keep conceding goals of the nature that Exeter are right now and expect to take anything from a game.
Ian Sharps stung the palms of Pym with another shot from distance at the start of the second half before Cummins won a free-kick 25 yards out and in a central position. Liam Sercombe’s effort hit the top of the wall and went behind for a corner kick.
David Wheeler, who had such an impact at Plymouth, replaced Jimmy Keohane, who was again largely anonymous for Exeter, as Tisdale switched to a 5-4-1 formation.
The Grecians began playing with more urgency, but it was Dominic Knowles with the next chance. His 20-yarder was easy for Pym, while Grimes was off target with a shot from 25 yards.
With ten minutes remaining, captain Scot Bennett was thrown into the attack as Exeter went more direct, but Jordan Tillson was robbed by Beavon, who should have done better when running through on goal.
Tisdale’s last throw of the dice was to throw Ollie Watkins on with four minutes remaining and City fashioned a great chance when Bennett’s header was spilled by McLaughlin, but no one was on hand to convert the loose ball.
It was that kind of night for City, who could not be faulted for effort. But it’s already turning into that kind of season.
Burton Albion (4-4-2): McLaughlin; Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Sharps, McFadzean; Akins, Mousinho, Weir, MacDonald; Knowles (Harness 81), Beavon. Substitutes (not used): Lyness (gk), Taft, McGurk, Palmer, Slade, Austin.
Goal: Beavon 41.
Exeter City (5-3-2): Pym; Butterfield, Bennett, Baldwin, Tillson (Watkins 86), Woodman; Sercombe, Oakley, Grimes; Keohane (Wheeler 61), Cummins. Substitutes (not used): Hamon (gk), Davies, Dawson, Jay, Pope.
Referee: Mark Heywood (Cheshire).