James Beeson was at St. James Park on Tuesday evening to witness yet another defeat for Exeter City, this time against League Two strugglers Wycombe Wanderers
Exeter City’s diabolical home run continued on Tuesday night as they slumped to defeat against Wycombe Wanderers in what was their eleventh successive home game without a win, the match ending 1-0 thanks to a spectacular first half strike from Wycombe midfielder Max Kretzschmar.
Despite not having won at St James’ Park since October, The Grecians went into the match confident of a victory against a Wycombe side that sat 22nd in League Two prior to kick off. Their chances were further boosted by the news that Wycombe top scorer Dean Morgan was on the bench as he continues his recovery from injury.
It was no surprise, therefore, that it was the home side who started the game the stronger, with striker Sam Parkin narrowly heading over the bar in the early stages after some good interplay between midfielder Liam Sercombe and winger David Wheeler. This was quickly followed up by Wheeler wasting a good opportunity to cross into the box, firing wide of the goal as Exeter dominated.
Wycombe struggled to get a foothold in the game, as a rasping drive by Matt Grimes was well saved by Wanderers keeper Matt Ingram. Eventually, the pressure subsided, with Exeter unable to convert their early possession into a lead. In the 20th minute, the young Exeter goalkeeper Christy Pym was called into action, saving well from a viciously struck shot by Wanderers winger Paris Cowan-Hall.
Unfortunately for Pym, his next involvement in the game was picking the ball out of his own net. Perhaps the 18-year old was being naïve in standing off his line, but nobody in the stadium could have predicted a wonder strike from midfielder Kretzschmar which looped over the helpless Pym from 35 yards out and nestled in the top corner of the net, giving the visitors a 23rd minute lead.
The Exeter players looked on in disbelief. Despite controlling the early stages of the game, they showed little impetus after falling behind, and were lucky not to go 2-0 down when Pym misjudged a clearance and was left stranded outside the box, Jordan Moore-Taylor saving his blushes with some excellent defensive work.
As the first half drew to a close, Exeter’s best chance of the game went begging; a wicked in-swinging delivery from a Craig Woodman corner, met by a thunderous header by centre-half Scott Bennett. Unfortunately the effort sailed past the post and was shortly followed by the half time whistle.
The second half started slowly, with Exeter’s players increasingly resorting to ineffective long-balls towards Parkin, whose heading accuracy was nothing short of appalling. It was no surprise, therefore, to see manager Paul Tisdale act swiftly and make a double substitution. What was surprising, however, was to see Wheeler replaced, who had been one of the Grecian’s best players up to that stage. Nevertheless, it was Wheeler and Parkin who were taken off, replaced by John O’Flynn and academy product Tom Nichols.
Despite this change, Exeter showed little signs of improvement, and nearly fell further behind when Nick Arnold blasted just over after Reece Styche’s shot was blocked on the edge of the Exeter penalty area.
As the seconds ticked away, nerves almost got the better of Pym again, as he fumbled a simple cross and almost gifted Wycombe an open goal. Luckily for the inexperienced keeper, Moore-Taylor was on hand to clear the ball out for a throw in. Time and time again, however, Exeter gifted Wycombe opportunities to extend their lead, with Kretzschmar skewing a shot wide of the post after some sloppy passing in the Grecian midfield.
In a last act of desperation, Tisdale brought off Elliot Richards, and gave the instruction to Bennett to come forward from centre back as his side desperately sought an equalizer. Bennett was instantly effective, winning a crucial header to force a corner kick. The ball was swung into the box, but Nichols’ downwards header fell straight to Ingram for what was in the end a comfortable save.
This was as good as it got for the home side, and soon after the final whistle blew, condemning them to defeat. Exeter City’s long wait for a home win continues, as Wycombe secured three vital points which move them five points clear of the relegation zone.