REPORT | Exeter City 2 Wanderers 2

Toal goal Exeter

Eoin Toal came up with another big goal to salvage a point for Wanderers on a crazy afternoon at St James’ Park, writes Pete Oliver.

Wanderers should have been out of sight at the end of a one-sided first half as they looked on course for the win that would have kept them in the automatic promotion slots.

But, crucially, the Whites had only a Paris Maghoma goal to show for their domination and instead of killing off the contest they then conceded two goals in a disastrous five minute-spell at the start of the second half.

Sonny Cox’s quick-fire double then looked as though it might be enough for Exeter to get the win they were looking for to pull further clear of the bottom four and hand Wanderers a potentially costly defeat.

But, to their credit, Ian Evatt’s men staged another fightback to at least make sure they didn’t leave Devon empty-handed thanks to Toal’s late leveller.

Three of Toal’s four goals this season have now led to important points as the defender – fresh from signing a new contract – followed up his goals in wins at Wycombe and Lincoln with another headed effort to stretch Wanderers’ unbeaten run to three games and keep them a point behind second-placed Derby before a mid-week visit of Oxford United and then the showdown at Pride Park.

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Wanderers had made three changes to the side that had begun the mid-week draw at Barnsley and that was as good as four when Victor Adeboyejo – whose goal at Oakwell had triggered that successful comeback – had to be replaced just five minutes in.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was sent on to partner Aaron Collins and the pair made a lively start as Collins sent a looping effort against the crossbar before shooting just wide, while Bodvarsson met Jack Iredale’s low ball in on the stretch to steer an effort past the near post.

The duo were a constant threat in a dominant start from the Whites, who were rarely out of Exeter’s half in the search for the opening goal.

It was persistent pressure on the City penalty area as Collins kept going close and Wanderers enjoyed the kind of territorial advantage – if not the goals – they had in the their 7-0 win when the sides met in November.

Inevitably, though, City couldn’t hold out forever and with just over half an hour gone the Whites got their breakthrough.


Again, Evatt’s men worked the ball well and when George Thomason and Josh Sheehan combined, Sheehan pulled the ball back for Maghoma to powerfully side-foot home the eighth goal of his highly productive loan spell.

That earned the Grecians a respite for as long as it took to re-start the contest as Wanderers immediately went hunting for a second goal to gain even greater control by the break.

But despite flashing a succession of balls across the home goal it wouldn’t come and rather than add to their lead, Wanderers suddenly found themselves behind in a dramatic start to the second half.

There were only 10 seconds on the clock when Cox struck for the first time, lobbing the stranded Joel Coleman after collecting a knock-down from Pierce Sweeney’s long ball forward.

And if that was a decent finish, his second was even better four minutes later when he ran clear before unleashing a fierce drive into the roof of the net to rock Wanderers further.


The Whites needed a response and as they began to get over the shock and re-assert themselves, Collins clipped over a cross which Bodvarsson nodded at keeper Vil Sinisalo.

But Exeter looked a different side and with just over 20 minutes to go only a smart save from Coleman denied Cox his hat-trick as they almost left the Whites with a near impossible task.

Instead, Wanderers gradually regained some of their early composure as they gathered themselves for a late push to repair the damage.

It was still end-to-end as Coleman saved again from Millenic Alli and Jack Iredale saw an effort turned around the post by Sinisalo.

But Wanderers were to have the final word as this time Iredale turned provider with a perfect cross Toal powered down and into the net with an unstoppable header.

With minutes of added time there was still scope for a late winner and although the Whites couldn’t turn a couple of corners into the decisive goal, they at least finished back on the front foot and in the thick of the promotion race.


Wanderers: Coleman; Toal, Almeida Santos, Iredale; Sheehan; Jones, Maghoma, Thomason (Dempsey 71), Williams (Ogbeta 67); Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson 5), Collins (Jerome 71). Substitutes: Dacres-Cogley, Forrester, Ashworth.

Booked: None.

Exeter City: Sinisalo; Sweeney, Aimson (Diabate 81), Jules; Niskanen, Woods (Harper 82), Carroll (Alli 77), Purrington; Aitchison, Cox (Eisa 77), Harris. Substitutes: MacDonald, Wildschut, Rankine.

Booked: Aitchison, Sweeney

Attendance: 6,748 (948 away)

Referee: Daniel Middleton.

Read Time: 4 mins