Exeter City 2-1 Walsall
St James' Park
Exeter City survived a nervy last few minutes to claim a narrow 2-1 victory over bottom of the table Walsall.
Richard Duffy`s close range finish gave City the lead inside 5 minutes and Daniel Nardiello`s first time shot doubled the lead in the second half.
Nardiello then had a penalty saved before Julian Gray`s late goal set up a tense finish but City held on for their first win of 2011.
Paul Tisdale opted to ditch the 4-3-3 system used last time out against Brentford, reverting back to his favoured 5-3-2 shape. Billy Jones coming back into the side in place of Nardiello.
David Noble`s recent form has seen him playing an increasingly effective role in City`s midfield and in just the fourth minute his clever ball inside the full back to Steve Tully lead to the opening goal.
Tully`s low centre found its way to Duffy who calmly slotted low to the keepers left from close range.
In-form Jamie Cureton had a golden chance to double the lead he was put through on goal by Liam Sercombe but Cureton`s low finish across the keeper flashed the wrong side of the post.
Trying to kill the game off Paul Tisdale threw on forwards Nardiello and John O`Flynn on the hour mark.
A move that paid dividends when Nardiello swept the ball home first time from Noble`s quickly taken free kick to double the Grecians lead with fifteen minutes to go.
Aaron Lescott then tripped O`Flynn in the box leaving Nardiello the chance to put the game beyond doubt from the penalty spot, but his weak effort was saved.
When Julian Gray scrambled the ball home to half the deficit with 5 minutes remaining it looked as though Nardiello`s miss could have been costly but City held on to claim their first victory of 2011.
City: Hamer, Duffy, Taylor, B Jones (O'Flynn), Tully, Golbourne, Dunne, Sercombe, Noble, Logan (Nardiello), Cureton