Exeter City picked up their first away win of the season as John O’Flynn netted an injury time winner in the Grecians’ 2-1 win at Northampton Town.
City made a poor start and trailed to Jacob Blyth goal on seven minutes, but Scot Bennett hauled the Devonians level ten minutes before half-time.
Paul Tisdale’s side created little in the second half, but with time running out, O’Flynn rose to glance a superb header into the far corner David Wheeler’s pinpoint cross to seal a superb win.
City made one change to the side that drew at Dagenham & Redbridge. Jimmy Keohane came in for Matt Grimes with Tisdale playing a 4-3-3 system. Northampton included former City full-back Kevin Amankwaah in their starting XI.
Northampton were soon on the attack and Jacob Blyth had the first shot of the game, but his effort was easy for Artur Krysiak. Amankwaah’s low cross then fell kindly for Roy O’Donovan 18-yards out, but he skied high over the bar.
Exeter were struggling to have any impact on the game and it was no real surprise when Northampton went in front with only seven minutes on the clock. A long ball over the top caught the City defence sleeping and Blyth ran through all too easily to slot the ball past Krysiak.
It was a nightmare start from Exeter, who had barely string two passes together. When they did finally mount an attack, Arron Davies’ cross went harmlessly wide of goal.
Every Northampton attack was coming down their right with former Grecians Amankwaah and Chris Hackett combining superbly. Blyth headed wide from an Amankwaah cross after more superb link-up play and the on-loan Leicester man then shot wide when he really should have scored after more hesitancy in the Grecians’ backline.
When City did venture forward, things didn’t go in their favour. Keohane was denied a one-on-one by a very contentious offside flag, while referee Rob Lewis incredulously missed a clear handball when Mattt Heath handled a Davies cross.
However, Northampton’s sheer physical dominance was causing all sorts of problems in the Exeter defence. Platt smashed a hooked shot against the bar, while Keohane scuffed a weak shot wide after delightfully taking down Oakley’s raking pass.
Platt headed onto the roof of the net from Amankwaah’s cross, but the Grecians pulled themselves level on 34 minutes. Keohane did superbly well to win his side a corner and from Woodman’s vicious in-swinger, Bennett got a foot to the ball and diverted it into the corner.
The goal really lifted City, who had far more urgency about them. Gow headed a Davis cross goalwards, which was blocked for as corner, while Northampton threatened just before half-time when a Darren Carter free kick almost caught out Krysiak, but he did well to recover and palm the ball behind.
The second half started a lot more even with Keohane almost going through on goal, while Platt missed an absolute sitter when he rose six yards out, but planted Joe Widdowson’s cross over the bar.
Exeter were finding themselves pinned inside their own half with Northampton getting on top. Blyth smashed a shot wastefully high and wide, while Krysiak made a superb stop with his feet to deny Platt a certain goal.
Bennett made a superb block to deny Blyth, while Davis cut inside and fired wastefully high with his right foot from a rare Exeter foray forward.
The Grecians looked far more solid defensively throughout the second half, especially Woodman, who had really been up against it in the first 45 minutes. The one thing Exeter lacked was that bit of quality to unlock to the home defence.
However, Parkin did have a chance in the 90th minute when he latched onto a woeful backpass, rounded Matt Duke, but saw his effort cleared off the line.
It mattered little though. As the game went into stoppage time, Davies swung a peach of a pass out wide to substitute David Wheeler, who in turn crossed for O’Flynn to send a lovely header into the far corner to win the game.
Northampton Town (4-4-2): Duke; Amankwaah (Tozer 73), Collins, Heath, Widdowson; Hackett, Deegan, Carter (Harriott 68), Blyth; O’Donovan (Emerton 73), Platt. Substitutes (not used): Morris, Hooper, McNamara, Toney.
Goal: Blyth 7
Exeter City (4-3-3): Krysiak; Baldwin, Bennett, Coles, Woodman, Sercombe, Oakley, Keohane (Wheeler 79); Gow (O’Flynn 73), Parkin, Davies. Substitutes (not used): Pym (gk), Moore-Taylor, Dawson, Doherty, Reid.
Goals: Bennett 35, O’Flynn 90
Referee: R Lewis.