Exeter City emerged as deserving victors in the first Devon derby of the season with a superb 3-1 win against Plymouth Argyle.
After a goalless first half, Arron Davies broke the deadlock 11 minutes after the break, but Argyle substitute Luke Young restored parity firing in a superb free kick to level the scores.
But Alan Gow netted a brilliant second with seven minutes remaining to put City back in front before the hard working Scot Bennett wrapped up the points with a breakaway third in the last minute of stoppage time.
The Grecians went into the game without first choice strike pair Sam Parkin and John O’Flynn, so Bennett was given a start in attack, flanked by Gow and David Wheeler.
Danny Butterfield made his full debut at right-back, while Matt Oakley was only deemed fit enough for the bench, which saw Tommy Doherty retain his place in the midfield alongside Liam Sercombe and Davies.
There was a debutant for Argyle as well. Paul Hayes was thrown straight into the starting XI at the expense of Reuben Reid and he partnered Marvin Morgan in attack. The returning Durrell Berry was named among the substitutes, but there was no place for Andres Gurrieri.
After a frenetic start, it was Exeter that created the first opportunity. Wheeler drilled a first time cross across the face of goal, which Argyle cleared for a corner with Bennett running in towards the near post.
Argyle were enjoying some neat possession, but their attacks often broke down in the final third with their crossing poor and drifting harmlessly behind Krysiak’s goal.
The Grecians won a free kick on 16 minutes when Guy Branston was penalised for tugging at Bennett’s shirt, but Gow’s free kick was straight at Luke McCormick in the Argyle goal. The Scot then turned provider with a drilled cross across the face of the Pilgrims’ goal that Bennett narrowly failed to convert.
However, while the chances were falling the way of the home side, Argyle looked comfortable in possession. Hamza Bencherif tried his luck with a shot from 30 yards; he connected well, but Krysiak was down smartly to save.
It was scrappy stuff though. Argyle looked poor in the final third, while Exeter were lacking in movement whenever they went forward. City had huge appeals for a penalty turned down when a Doherty shot was blocked by Branston and then clearly handballed inside the box by Bencherif. A huge cry of handball went up from the home fans, but referee Andre Marriner waved play on much to Exeter’s annoyance.
On the stroke of half-time, Doherty was penalised for a foul on Morgan. It was in a dangerous position and the ball was laid off to Wotton, who brought the half to a close by blazing the ball high into the Big Bank.
Argyle started the second half well with Curtis Nelson crossing to the near post, but Krysiak was there before Morgan and Exeter countered with a shot from Sercombe that he could not connect properly with and McCormick saved.
Oakley, a half-time introduction for Wheeler, lasted just seven minutes before he hobbled off and was replaced by Matt Grimes. However, it was a moment of absolute brilliance from Gow that finally broke the deadlock.
He turned brilliantly ion the touchline to break free of his marker and run at the heart of the Argyle defence before lipping a ball to Davies to rifle past McCormick from 18 yards.
Argyle boss John Sheridan responded by replacing the ineffective Hayes and Bencherif with Reuben Reid and Luke Young and Reid was soon in the action with a cross that Jamie Reckford headed into the arms of Krysiak.
The equaliser came on 69 minutes. Morgan won Argyle a free kick with what looked like a dive over the legs of Coles that earned the Exeter captain a caution. Again, it was in a promising position and Young curled a fine free kick over the wall and into the net to make it 1-1.
Suddenly, it was all Argyle. Boco forced Krysiak into a smart save after a neat-one two with Reid, who was making an impression since entering the fray. Also entering the fray was Exeter’s Jimmy Keohane, for Doherty with 20 minutes remaining.
Grimes fired over the bar from 25 yards and went closer moments later with a curling shot with his right foot that drifted just wide of the far post.
Reid came close to putting the Pilgrims in front with a smart turn and shot, but Krysiak got down to make a superb one-handed save. From the resulting corner, Branston headed goalwards, but the Pole was again there to make the save.
The Grecians then countered and went back in front with yet another superb goal on 83 minutes. The ball was worked wide to Gow, who curled a sublime effort over the head of McCormick and into the top corner from the corner of the penalty box.
Keohane sent Bennett scampering clear on the right, but McCormick was of his line quickly to save and with a last throw of the dice, Tyler Harvey was sent on for Lewis Alessandra.
City were happy to play on the counter-attack and after Bennett had been denied once, he duly wrapped up the points after a pass from Butterfield sent Keohane clear down the right. The youngster laid the ball across goal where Bennett received it with his back to goal, turned and rolled the ball past McCormick.
Exeter City (4-3-3): Krysiak; Butterfield, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Sercombe, Doherty (Keohane 70), Davies; Wheeler (Oakley h-t, Grimes 53), Bennett, Gow. Substitutes (not used): Pym (gk), Moore-Taylor, Tillson, J Reid.
Goals: Davies 56, Gow 83
Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): McCormick; Nelson, Wotton, Reckford; Alessandra (Harvey 88), Hourihane, Bencherif (Young 61), Boco; Hayes (Reid 61), Morgan. Substitutes (not used): Coles (gk), Berry, Blanchard, R Trotman.
Goal: Young 69
Referee: A Marriner