Writer: Kithson Bain
Date:Thursday March 31 2011
St James' Park
Ryan Harley`s penalty to plunged Swindon deeper into trouble at the foot of the League One table.
With neither side able to stamp their authority on the game 0-0 seemed a certain outcome until Scott Curthbert needlessly handled from a corner with only ten minutes remaining.
In his dismissive style Harley casually belted home the resulting spot kick to seal all three points for his side.
With City in search of consistency, three points and a clean sheet at home will have delighted Paul Tisdale. His Exeter City side have now surpassed last season points total of 51 with still seven games to play.
With Swindon arguably in greater need of three points it was expected that they would come out seeking an early goal, but in truth their performance was flat throughout. And their 300 strong support verbally vented their frustration at seeing their side fail again away from home.
The visitors could have been ahead inside the opening minute when Billy Jones` wayward pass across goal went straight to Matt Richie, luckily Ben Hamer was alert to the error of his team mate and made a smart low save from Richie`s sharp shot.
Defences were very much dominating proceedings in the first-half with a wayward Harley free-kick the best City could offer up as a thick fog descended on St James` Park.
Set pieces were to prove fruitful for City all night. Two minutes after the break Cureton almost turned in James Dunne`s effort after an innovative short corner routine.
The best Swindon could offer was Alan Sheehan`s thumping free-kick that Hamer did well to tip round the post.
Troy Archibald-Henville has been one of City`s top performers in recent weeks, so to see him limp off with twenty minutes to go will be something of a concern for City ahead of Saturdays game with Dag & Red.
However, his withdrawal provided opportunity for Scott Bennett to come on and make his debut at the heart of the Grecians defence.
As this rather turgid affair wound it`s way towards its conclusion the match swung heavily the way of the home side. Through the thickening fog Cuthbert thrust a hand at the ball trying to clear a corner and the referee eventually pointed to the spot.
Harley confidently strode forward and netted his fifteenth goal of the season and deny Swindon what could have been a crucial point.
City closed out the match with consummate ease to move back into the top half of League One.
Passing last season`s points total is a mark of how this team has improved and despite recent inconstant results a top half finish is well within the reach of Tisdale`s team.
City weren`t at their free-flowing best but proved good enough to beat a Swindon side that could well be heading for relegation. Tougher challenges lie ahead.
City: Hamer, Duffy, Taylor, Archibald-Henville (Bennett), Jones, Sercombe, Dunne, Noble, Harley, O`Flynn, Cureton
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Date:Thursday March 31 2011
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