Exeter City 3-0 Cardiff City XI: Grecians go into season opener full of confidence after yet another win

Authored by Benstrange95
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 9:46pm

Exeter City will go into their Sky Bet League Two season full of confidence after beating a Cardiff City XI 3-0 at St James Park, to round off an excellent pre-season which saw the Grecians win all seven of their fixtures.

Two goals from Robbie Simpson, who looks to have settled well going into his first season with the club, and a first half strike from Lee Holmes made the difference for the home side, who once again impressed on a slightly controversial night in Devon.

It began with some confusion as fans made their way to St James Park expecting to see some high profile Cardiff first team regulars, but were disappointed to learn that the match would feature a Cardiff side which featured players from the club’s development squad. 

This led to an issue of an apology on behalf of the Welsh club, after officials made the decision not to send their strongest side to Devon.

It was a first half dominated by the Grecians as the Cardiff side struggled to deal with the high tempo pressure from the City forward players.

An impressive Ollie Watkins looked lively throughout and new signing Simpson was assured giving the young Bluebirds central defenders a strong physical test.

With the away side offering very little going forward, the Grecians impressed attacking in numbers.

City’s first attempt came as the ball fell centrally to Simpson who struck a sweetly driven shot low to Cardiff goalkeeper Oliver Byrne’s left, who saved well.

The home side then continued to press with Simpson now turning provider as his smart lay-off to Ryan Harley, just outside of the 18-yard area, saw the midfielder strike low to Byrne’s right. Once again the away keeper was equal to it.

Along with Simpson’s good hold up play, City also looked dangerous on the counter- attack through Watkins and Holmes.

The former on the left hand side drove at the Cardiff back line and played a smart give-and-go with Holmes, which then saw 20-year-old Watkins volley low against the right hand post.

The home side finally got the goal they deserved just before the half-hour mark, after sloppy midfield play from the visitors let Harley pinch the ball in the middle of midfield to drive at the heart of the Cardiff defence.

The composed Harley played a delicate ball out to Holmes on the left who struck a low driven shot into Byrne’s left-hand corner.

City continued to press and withstood some minor pressure from the visitors to take a deserved lead into the break. 

The visitors seemed to have woken up after the restart, and forced a good chance early on with Jamie Bird striking just wide of Bobby Olejnik’s goal.

But their job of turning the game around was made even harder after another City counter attack saw Taylor’s effort pushed wide for a corner.

From that set-play Taylor then found himself in the midst of a crowded penalty area, but kept calm to tee up Simpson who struck high into the left-hand corner to double the home side’s lead.

City then extended their lead even further as a Holmes cross found Simpson to head his second of the night.

The match did however take a sour turn which saw Holmes and Jordan Moore-Taylor both carried from the field after some careless Cardiff tackling, which subsequently meant Bird and Robbie Patten were both issued with yellow cards. The Grecians were then dealt another injury worry as Jake Taylor limped towards the tunnel with ice strapped to his thigh.

Paul Tisdale then reaped the changes to prevent any more casualties from a side which impressed and looks likely to start the season opener with Blackpool in just over a week.

Despite taking major positives from the match, the Grecians will now hope the injury worries are not as bad as first feared, as they go into the season opener with a perfect pre-season record.

Attendance- 1166


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