Grecians suffer yet another first-round exit in cup competitions
Exeter City 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2
Exeter City's dismal record in cup competitions continued last night as they turned in a dismal performance to match in losing 2-0 at home to Wycombe Wanderers in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Not since a 2-0 win over Yeovil Town on August 9, 2011, have City tasted a cup victory and they never looked like ending that run against a hard-working Wycombe side who were far better on the night.
Manager Paul Tisdale made five changes to the side that beat York City. Scot Bennett came in for captain Danny Coles and partnered Jordan Moore-Taylor at centre-half, with skipper for the night Pat Baldwin at right-back.
Tommy Doherty and Liam Sercombe were paired together in midfield, while Alan Gow, a two goal-hero on Saturday, featured from the start at the expense of hamstring victim John O'Flynn.
Named among the substitutes was 17-year-old youth team striker Matt Jay, who bagged a superb hat-trick for the Under-18 XI in a 5-0 thrashing of Torquay last weekend, meaning that nine of the 16 men on duty had come through the ranks at St James' Park.
Wycombe also made several changes to the side that played at the weekend, but they took no time in getting into the game. Matt McClure stung the palms of Artur Krysiak with a blistering shot from distance, while several other efforts at goal were off target. Exeter took an age to get into their stride.
It came as no surprise when Wycombe went in front on 30 minutes. Doherty lost the ball in midfield and the Exeter defence was left hopelessly exposed. The rest was inevitable; the ball was played through to McClure, who rolled it under Krysiak and into the net.
McClure almost added a second after skipping past Doherty and rounding Krysiak, but he fell off balance and scuffed his shot into the keeper's arms.
In a word, Exeter were dreadful. They could not get their passing game going and the home fans' frustrations grew with a number of close offside calls that went again their players.
Wycombe, very much like York last Saturday, were playing well and pressed City all over the pitch and forcing Exeter into unforced errors.
Finally, the Grecians had a shot on goal and it came in the 40th minute. Gow's snap-shot from 25 yards was tipped over the bar by Matt Ingram and, from the resulting corner, David Wheeler saw his header cleared off the line.
That was as good as it got for Wheeler, whose disappointing evening came to an end when he was withdrawn at half-time and replaced by Matt Grimes. It was also as close as Exeter came to scoring.
The change certainly led to en encouraging start to the second half with Sercombe firing high with his left foot and a promising City attack, led by the rampaging Sercombe, ended with Gow being caught unnecessarily offside.
It was all so disjointed, though. Sam Parkin headed a rare chance over the bar from Gow's cross and it was no surprise when Tisdale threw on Jay for his City debut. Doherty was the man to make way.
His introduction to the professional game was met with a crunching tackle from Wycombe's Kortney Hause, but the youngster got to his feet and admirably got on with the game.
Sercombe saw a free-kick pushed behind by Ingram, but City's dismal evening was completed when Antony Stewart powered a superb header into the roof of the net from a left-wing cross. It was no more than the Chairboys deserved.
Exeter City (4-4-2): Krysiak; Moore-Taylor, Baldwin, Bennett, Woodman; Wheeler (Grimes h-t), Sercombe, Doherty (Jay 70), Gosling; Gow (Reid 78), Parkin. Substitutes (not used): Pym (gk), Dawson.
Wycombe Wanderers (4-4-2): Ingram; McCoy (Fletcher 90), Stewart, Hause, Wood; Arnold (Craig 74), Lewis, Knott, Kretzschmar (Bloomfield 80); Kuffour, McClure. Substitutes (not used): Harrison (gk), Morgan.
Goals: McClure 30, Stewart 82.
Bookings: Wood, McCoy.
Referee: P Gibbs (West Midlands).