Last gasp goal from former Blue Martin ends Town's cup run
Former Blue Lee Martin grabbed a last minute winner to send Town out of the leasing.com Trophy.
The winger stabbed the ball in from close range in added on time after Will Keane had cancelled out Nicky Ajose’s first-half opener.
Keane had twice gone close for Town, while Teddy Bishop was bright throughout but Martin, who scored the vital penalty to beat Blues in the Carabao Cup shoot-out last year, had the final word.
Cole Skuse returned to the side after a neck injury, with Teddy Bishop and Freddie Sears handed a first start of the season.
Bishop was immediately prominent down the left, his cross headed clear as Keane looked to get in, Tomas Holy saving comfortably low down from Joel Randall’s strike, Ajose then trying to chip ‘keeper Holy - not easy at 6ft 9in - and the ball sailed over the bar.
Jonny Maxted was quick off his line to stop the threat from Bishop, Jake Taylor zipping a right footer over from 25 yards, while at the other end Gwion Edwards found some space down the right but his cross was headed away from danger by Alex Hartridge.
Toto Nsiala headed into the sidenetting from Andre Dozzell’s deep cross, the Town defender in the right place to do his defensive duties soon after from Ajose’s cross, then Taylor high and wide with a curler as the first 30 minutes passed without either ‘keeper really tested.
Keane almost broke the deadlock with an individual run into the box, the ball hitting the post off a defender, then the striker headed Dozzell’s shot just wide of the post before picking up a yellow card in an eventful two minutes for the Blue.
Bishop - an ever willing runner - won a free-kick on the edge of the box just before the break, Dozzell’s effort hitting the wall but it was Exeter who edged in front right on half-time, Ajose forcing the ball in at the far post after the influential Nigel Atangana had instigated the move.
Will Dean replaced Gary Warren at the start of the second-half for Exeter, Bishop immediately surging into the home box but he tried to set up Sears when maybe a shot was on.
Sears escaped down the right but Randall did enough to quell the danger but just before the hour Town were level, Sears the provider and Keane finishing in style.
Sears threatened to put Town ahead within a minute of the goal, Maxted denying the former West Ham striker, Holy then called into action to hold on to Matt Jay’s free-kick.
Sears made way for Kayden Jackson in Town’s first change, Bishop carrying the attack to Exeter again with a clever run down the left but his cross was cleared by Atangana.
Bishop weaved his way into dangerous territory, this time down the right but his cross beat everyone and drifted to safety, Jackson hitting the sidenetting after Myles Kenlock’s diagonal ball before Bishop was replaced by Idris El Mizouni. Martin also entering the fray for the closing stages.
Woolfenden did well to head the ball to safety from under the bar as Exeter threatened a second, El Mizouni doing well at the other end to drive towards goal before Jordan Dyer came to side’s rescue.
Kenlock’s cross was cleared at full stretch after Dozzell had split the home defence, Nsiala firing over from close range, then Martin’s cross caused alarm for Blues until Kenlock’s intervention.
Skuse toe-poked the ball away from danger as Exeter looked on for a decisive second, El Mizouni testing Maxted with a right foot effort, with Holy producing a brilliant save to deny Jay but with virtually the last kick Martin grabbed the winner.
Exeter: Maxted, Atangana, Ajose (Martin 76), Warren (Dean 46), Jay, Richardson, Taylor, Randall, Hartridge, Seymour (Bowman 69), Dyer. Subs not used: Collins, Kite, Chrisene. Booked: Jay.
Town: Holy, Nsiala, Wilson, Woolfenden, Edwards, Skuse, Dozzell, Kenlock, Bishop (El Mizouni 76), Sears (Jackson 63), Keane. Subs not used: Norris, Norwood, Judge, Garbutt, Dobra. Booked: Keane, Woolfenden, Nsiala.