FIFTEEN more results like this and there will be few complaints from the Galpharm faithful!
Jamie McCombe grabbed his third goal in five games before Jordan Rhodes joined a select band of strikers to have notched 30 in a season for the club and it was job done in Simon Grayson’s first match at the helm.
The new manager stuck with the same starting XI selected by Lee Clark in his last match in charge against Sheffield United as Town chalked up a very welcome first win in four games.
But there was a first outing of season for midfielder Joey Gudjonsson as the boss used his substitutes to good effect.
The Icelandic international, who was given a rousing reception when he replaced Anton Robinson, was part of a double swap on 64 minutes, with Lee Novak, who came on for Alan Lee, producing a bright cameo performance.
Danny Cadamarteri, who played the final stages in place of Gary Roberts, also did his bit as any chance of an Exeter fightback was finally quashed.
Town didn’t have it all their own way against the dogged Devonians, who twice came close during a lively opening spell and had a 60th-minute penalty claim turned down when Daniel Nardiello went down under Jack Hunt’s challenge.
But they did the bulk of the attacking, with Rhodes having a 71st-minute header ruled out for offside, and a first clean sheet in five matches was an added bonus.
While passes sometimes went astray, Grayson’s players showed patience, persistence and a pleasing willingness to express themselves, with Jack Hunt and Danny Ward again forming a potent partnership down the right.
Ward was a very willing worker throughout, and having set up Town’s first chance in the fourth minute, when Alan Lee glanced a header wide, got back well to dispossess Jake Taylor as the on-loan Reading man bore down on goal in a 10th-minute counter-attack.
Soon after Ward had a shot from the edge of the area blocked, and centre-back Sean Morrison put a cross against the outside of the right-hand post before Hunt put in the 30th-minute centre from which Rhodes brought a fine save from Polish keeper Artur Krysiak with a diving header.
The breakthrough goal finally came in the 40th minute.
Ward won a free-kick when James Dunne fouled him on the left and flighted the ball in for McCombe to guide home a header.
Exeter, who often had all 11 men behind the ball, did have chances.
Skipper David Noble drilled a long-range free-kick wide just 90 seconds in while McCombe made a vital block to thwart Nardiello as he shot from Taylor’s pass a minute later.
Alex Smithies had to be alert to gather Liam Sercombe’s snap shot on 10 minutes, and the Town keeper then beat away a fizzing effort from former Barnsley man Nardiello on 27.
And while Town continued to have the better of things in the second half, Exeter did have that penalty appeal before Noble put an effort over.
Ward was still making a nuisance of himself while Novak came close in the 67th minute, when he took possession from Gobern, cut in from the left and put the ball just over the bar.
When Rhodes had his header from McCombe’s flick-on disallowed, it looked as if the wait for a 30th goal might carry on.
But his floated 85th-minute finish after Novak neatly laid off Gobern’s delivery was real class.