Disappointment all round for Shots, who failed to build on their excellent away victory at Plymouth and came unstuck against a lively Exeter side thanks to two fine strikes from the experienced Jamie Cureton. Inbetween, Craig Reid poked home his first Shots goal to put Shots level at the break, but in all fairness, the Grecians deserved their victory.
With no fresh injury worries, Shots manager Dean Holdsworth named an unchanged starting line up and bench for his team's first home league match of the season, meaning that Guy Madjo was once again confined to the bench as 'The Gaffer' started with Craig Reid and Michael Rankine up top in a 4-4-2 formation. Visitors Exeter also started the match with a 4-4-2 shape, Alan Gow playing just off of Jamie Cureton up front.
Prior to kick off, The 'Hot Shots' cheerleaders unleashed the moves they have been practising all through the close season - great season debut girls! - and then made way for the Shots themselves.
Shots were sloppy in possession early on, but did most of the pressing. However, it was the visitors who then took the lead with their first attempt on goal in the 13th minute. Alan Gow slipped a neat pass through to Jamie Cureton, who skipped away from Sonny Bradleys outstretched leg and sent a rasping shot past Jamie Young, who barely appeared to see it.
From the kick off, Shots set about their task again and Troy Brown almost doubled his tally for the season, his close range header coming back off a combination of man and post. And on 17 minutes Shots did level. Another sweet left footed delivery from Anthony Tonkin caused havoc in the box. Amid a scramble of legs in the box, Alex Rodman swung first and then Craig Reid stabbed the ball home from close range for his first Shots goal. 1-1
Following the equaliser, The Shots lost their way somewhat and the visitors had the next two efforts on goal. Tommy Doherty brought a routine save out of Young and then, from a corner, Scot Bennett saw his thumping header rebound off the foot of a post. THen Cureton, showing pace that belied his years, skipped inside past Bradley again, only for the Hull loanee to trip him on the way by and receive a yellow card for the foul. Sercome fired the resulting free kick over the bar. Next up, Cureton again giving Bradley a torrid time, bore down on goal, but this time Sonny timed his tackle perfectly to win the ball back.
On 43 minutes, Guy Madjo replaced Reid who had picked up a knock and after three minutes of added time, Shots will have been relieved to get back to the dressing room to regroup, somewhat fortunate to be level.
To be fair to the visitors, they also began the second half the livelier too, but Shots dug in, worked hasrd and occasionally threatened themselves. Alex Rodman was caught as he got a shot away inside the visitors penalty area and was replaced on 59 minutes by Myles Anderson, the Blackburn loanee, who came on for his Shots home debut.
For some reason, Shots could not find any fluency in their passing all night. The players just didnt seem to be on the same wavelength and never was this truer than when, in the 74th minute, Tonkin woefully under hit an attacking free kick pass. The idea was to pull the ball back for Josh Payne to shoot , but Exeter pounced on it, Gow breaking forward at pace and threading the ball into the path of Sercombe. His initial shot was paried into the air by Young, but only into the path of the evergreen Cureton, who met it with a flying volley. 2-1 Exeter.
Connolly came on for Rankine in the 83rd minute. In the 84th, a half chance for Shots as yet again Troy Brown got on the end of a Tonkin delivery. His header was weak though and fell straight into the grateful arms of Krysiak.
So to date, Shots season has begun just as it did last, with a great away win followed by a disappointing home defeat.
Shots: Young, Herd, Brown, Bradley, Tonkin, Mekki, Morris(A), Payne, Rodman, (Anderson) Reid, (Madjo) Rankine (Connolly): Subs not used: Morris(G), Bergqvist, Cooksley, Roberts 2678 (341 Exeter fans)