Exeter City: Rise to the top

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Confirmation of the final results of last season. Could have been so different if either of those two losses had been wins.
 

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September 1st 2024

Transfer Review: Exeter City

In today's Transfer Review, Exeter City fan Ryan Adams looks at his club's signings in this window.

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Alfie McCalmont (CM) - the prodigal son returns! Having fallen out of favour with Leeds, McCalmont is a Grecian once more. However we've barely seen him so far, with Zanellato and Burton the preferred partnership.

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Rory Morton (CB) - loaned out almost immediately, one for the future.

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Francesco Cassata (CM) - bought in from Sassuolo, the Italian has bedded into the squad as well as his compatriot Zanellato did last season. An assured performance on his debut, and a stunning goal a few games later has endeared him to the fans early on.

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Harry Brockbank (CB) - Brought in from Sunderland, brings some more leadership to the defence, and has performed very well so far.

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Jumalon Mohamed Amsar (RW) - young Australian bought in after being released by Newcastle Jets. Back up for Harvey Elliott.

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George Nunn (ST) - former Chelsea youngster, back up/competition for Jordan Chapman. Scored off the bench on his debut.

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Lorenzo Panariello (CB) - Another Italian, Panariello has looked good in the Carabao Cup.

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Adriano Almeida (LB) - Portuguese hot prospect, has looked steady in his first few performances.

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Steven Sessegnon (RB/LB) - bought in on deadline after the Adam Lewis debacle, Sessegnon has proved an adequate replacement so far.

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Kazaiah Sterling (ST/LW/RW) - wanted more game time, so decided to drop down a division to League One. Future at St James's Park looks unpromising

Patrick Finger (AM) - getting £165k for him is a miracle, James's worst signing by a mile.

Moritz Mosandl (CM) - never looked the same after breaking his leg. Hope he has better luck in the future.

Adam Lewis (LB/CM) - the big one. Tom James has been vocal about how he didn't want to sell Lewis, but the board went over his head. Going to be a big miss, surprised and disappointed he decided to move to a club in the same division.

Carlos Strandberg (ST/LW) - it started off so well for Strandberg. But it went horribly wrong for him, and he just wasn't getting the goals.

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We start off the season with a solid performance at home to Brentford. George Nunn bags on his debut. Two goals in three minutes are enough to see off Birmingham in the next game, Dilan Markanday deputising well for the injured Harvey Elliott.

A weakened side struggled against newly promoted Championship side Colchester in the cup, and we fall behind after five minutes. A rare goal from Lloyd Jones brings us level, and Lewis Ward is the hero in the shootout, saving twice, despite Jordan Chapman missing his spot kick.

After a frustrating 0-0 draw against Millwall, we record back to back 4-1 wins over Cardiff and Middlesbrough. We're taken to penalties against in the cup after Elliott rescues a draw. Ward once again saves two penalties in the shootout.

We finish the month by losing at home to Newcastle. We fell behind 2-0 early on, and a late consolation from Scott McMillan (his last match before going on loan to Livingston) wasn't enough to inspire a comeback.

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Playing as a right winger after another injury to Elliott, Neco Williams finds some scoring form, bagging three in two matches. We fail to win at home once more, after Sheffield United get a late equaliser.

A superb performance against a Manchester City side loaded with star power isn't enough to go through. We lose in an epic penalty shootout, with the home scoring 9 out of 10, and us sadly only managing eight, with Borracha and Zanellato missing.

We return to winning ways at home against Swansea, thanks to George Nunn and Francesco Cassata.

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A strange month. Many of our top players from last season struggle for form, notably Jordan Chapman, Danny Erdhardt and Niccolo Zanellato. A Ki-Jana Hoever screamer rescues a 2-2 draw against Barnsley as we twice come from behind. Against Reading, they score from all three of their shots on target, all from set pieces, and all within the same five minute span. Another 0-0 home draw follows, as Chapman continues to misfire.

Nunn replaces Chapman up front against Sunderland, and we win our first game in four, thanks to Markanday and Lopez. We finish the month by winning our first game at St James's Park since August, seeing off QPR easily.

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Chapman well and truly returns to form, grabbing two hat tricks. Harvey Elliott also impresses, scoring two against Derby, our first meeting with them since the playoff final in 2023, and since Adam Lewis swapped us for them.

An easy win against Colchester follows, before Chapman makes amends for an awful miss, scoring a 91st minute goal against Palace.

We draw 0-0 with relegated Watford, in a match which we dominated, but couldn't find the goal we needed. An easy win at Rotherham sees out the month, with another hat trick for Chapman.

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2nd after 19 games, praying that we can stay in an automatic spot for the rest of the season.
 

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A largely flawless December. We breeze through the first five matches of the month, dominating and rarely looking threatened. The goals are largely shared between the attacking quartet of Chapman, WIlliams, Lopez and Elliott, with Erhardt's indifferent form seeing him dropped for Randell Williams.

The year ends on a bad note, as Derby grab a 2-0 victory at Pride Park. Former star Adam Lewis misses out on the reunion due to a shoulder injury.

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After returning to winning ways against Reading, a weakened side go 1-0 down early on at home to League Two Notts County in the cup. Thankfully Steven Sessegnon grabs his first two goals to put us ahead, and after a Notts County equaliser, Nunn gives us an unassailable lead with two quick goals. Erhardt finally gets his first goal of the season. It also proves to be the last Exeter appearance for stalwarts Lewis Ward and Adam Phillips. Both were at the club during our League Two days, and both wanted first team football so I allowed them to move on.

Two big wins follow, with Harvey Elliott grabbing a brace against Birmingham and Brentford. Rwakarmbwe gets his first goal for the club, and Rob Burton his first of the season.

After a bad defeat at Millwall, we welcome Chelsea in the cup. We manage more shots on target than our Premier League visitors, but can't find a way through as former Barcelona defender Jean-Claire Todibo is named man of the match.

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We cruise past Middlesbrough, before producing a shock result at Stamford Bridge. An early screamer from Borracha gives us a lead, before Elliott pounced on a defensive mistake to make it two. Anthony grabbed a late consolation but we held on to dump title chasing Chelsea out of the cup.

We go to Newcastle with the chance to extend our lead at the top of the table to six points. We start well, late goals from Janssen and Joao Mario mean we have to settle for a point. A dreadful performance at home to Cardiff follows, as the Welsh side dominate and we deservedly lose.

Goals from Lopez and Elliott help us extend our good run against Leeds, before a 96th minute header from Nunn seals all three points against promotion contenders Blackburn.

Our second bad collapse of the month occurs at Crystal Palace, where we concede three times in the last 10 minutes to lose.

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A home win against Watford restores our six point gap at the top, after which we score three times at Anfield... but also concede six. Liverpool scored twice early on before Nunn's placed shot. 4-1 down at half time, we manage to claw it back to 4-3 before Liverpool score twice late on. Roberto Lopez is sent off in the dying minutes for a foolish second yellow.

Our St James's Park inconsistency continues, and we miss Lopez badly in a 1-0 home defeat. Consecutive 4-0 victories follow, before a damaging loss in Wales cuts out lead to three points.

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Don't want to jinx it... but this looks like it could finally be our time to go up. Six games to go, including an away trip to Sheffield United.
 

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Forgot to mention our two winter signings...

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£2.5 million from Seoul, Park Jin-Wook should play a big part in the future.

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Free transfer, needed a back up keeper after Lewis Ward left the club. Retiring at the end of the season.
 

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BBC Radio Devon - BBC Devon Introducing


Coverage of Exeter City (1st) vs Barnsley (6th)

Commentators: Charlie Price and ex-Exeter City striker Ryan Bowman

Pre-match build-up

Charlie Price (CP): Hello and welcome to what could be a big big day for Exeter City. I'm here at St James's Park with someone who was here right at the start of their recent rise, Ryan Bowman. Bowman made 84 appearances for Exeter, scoring 25 times. After two years back in Scotland with Hamilton, he's back down in the South West now, playing with Vanarama National side Yeovil. Ryan, hello.

Ryan Bowman (RB): Hi Charlie, thanks for having me.

CP: So a reminder of what's at stake today. If Exeter beat Barnsley today, and Sheffield United fail to win a difficult away trip at Reading, then the Grecians will be promoted to the top flight for the first time ever. Ryan, have you been watching Exeter much this season?

RB: Yeah, obviously it's been difficult to watch on a Saturday cos I've normally got a match with Yeovil. But I've been injured recently so been able to come down here a lot more often. But ya know, Tom James is a class act, when I left the club he told me I was welcome back any time, and he invited me down for the Hull game last month, think that was my first match back at the club since I left a few years ago.

CP: Obviously you were here when James was first appointed. Did you ever think that the club would reach this level?

RB: We were surprised when he was appointed, we knew he'd done work with the youth club, but he was younger than most of us. But we could see from the first training sessions how good he was. He idolises Jurgen Klopp, and wanted us to play a similar way to Liverpool. That's why so many Liverpool lads have come to to the South West and done well for us. And he gets the best out of players. Players like Randell Williams, Neco Williams, Adam Lewis before he went to Swansea, they were all playing down in League Two, and are now some of the best players in the league. The gaffer has always been ambitious though, I remember him saying he wanted to win the Champions League here. And you know, we all laughed. But at that stage none of us thought the Premier League would be reachable for a long while. And now they're on the verge of it.

The Match

"6

CP: Big news coming in from the Madejski. Reading have taken the lead against Sheffield United through a Danny Loader penalty. If the score there stays the same, and Exeter find a goal, then we will see a promotion here today.

"10 GOAL

RB: Exeter playing the ball around nicely. Elliot plays a lovely through ball to Chapman, his strike on goal saved ERHARDTTTTTTTTTTTTT

CP: WHAT A FINISH FROM YOUNG DANNY ERHARDT!!!! Chapman's initial shot is parried away, and Erhardt finds the net from an almost impossible angle. 1-0 Exeter.

"24 GOAL

CP: Exeter deep in the Barnsley half once again. They've had shot after shot here but they need to start converting. Lopez has it now, he crosses the ball in and it's Chapman!!!!!!

RB: YESSSSSSS COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!

CP: That's his 23rd goal of the season, a beautiful cross from Lopez, and Chapman connects with the header perfectly.

"39 GOAL

CP: This has been Barnsley's best period of the game, although Exeter are pressing nicely. And Chapman wins the ball high up the pitch, plays it through to Cassata GOALLLLLLLLL!

RB: Barnsley being made to look very average here, this isn't what they need while they're in playoff contention. Lovely long range strike from Cassata, and Exeter have surely done their part of the job.

"60

CP: It's a carnival atmosphere at St James's Park, although news has just reached us of an equaliser in Reading. Anthony Elanga, on loan from Manchester United, has brought things level there. So let's see what happens with that one.

"90

RB: We're into the last minute of added time, and everyone's frantically refreshing their phones here. Exeter have played flawlessly today, but they don't know if they can celebrate promotion just yet.

CP: THEY CAN INDEED, FULL TIME AT THE MADEJSKI STADIUM, AND IT'S READING 1 SHEFFIELD UNITED 1! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR HISTORY, EXETER CITY ARE GOING TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE. TOP FLIGHT FOOTBALL IS COMING TO DEVON NEXT SEASON.

RB: Absolutely incredible scenes, the fans are on the pitch. Tom James made a substitution in the last minute, not sure if it was intentional or not, but he bought on Randell Williams, who's been here throughout their rise, and Rob Burton, a boyhood Exeter fan who made his debut back in League 2. The fans are all over Tom James, and understandably so, what a spectacular job he's done here.

CP: The Championship title is still to be decided, although we're hearing Newcastle failed to beat QPR, so Exeter now have a five point lead with five games to go. But Exeter fans don't care about that one bit right now. After all the play-off heartbreak, Exeter have finally reached the promised land.
 

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The Athletic finally launches UK-based, soccer-centric site with ...


Exeter make their greatest leap yet

By James Ingram

When I first met Tom James six years ago, he'd just masterminded a 1-0 victory over Sunderland in the FA Cup. In their next match at St James's Park, they lost 1-0 to Walsall. James clearly had a vision for the club, but he didn't have the players. Inconsistency ruined their chances of automatic promotion in his first season, and a dreadful performance at Wembley meant that James and Exeter City were stuck in League Two for another year. Two automatic promotions later, Exeter found themselves in the Championship for the first time ever. Virtually everyone predicted them to go down. They had virtually no money in comparison with the rest of the league. To put it into perspective, Newcastle spent £54 million that window, despite only selling £6 million worth of players. Whilst the north-east powerhouse made £15 million striker Wesley their marquee signing, Exeter pinned their hopes on £88k Patrick Finger from Eintracht Frankfurt, a player who would go down as Tom James's worst signing. Yet whilst Newcastle scraped an 11th placed finish, the Grecians managed to defy all odds and finish 5th. And had Borracha's long range effort in the 90th minute of the playoff final been an inch lower, they would have been promoted. After another agonising play-off final defeat against Bristol City, James almost resigned, especially after the board went above his head and sold Adam Lewis to Derby in the following transfer window, whilst only giving the gaffer a fraction of the fee for transfers. James decided to stay, and the last few weeks have validated his decision.

After their 3-0 win over Barnsley secured their place in the top flight, James reminded his players that the Championship title was at stake. A 3-0 victory over Colchester put them one point away, and whilst they granted Newcastle a reprieve after losing 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, a third consecutive 3-0 win - this time against Stoke - secured the title. Harvey Elliott scored a penalty in the first minute, and nerves were settled when Jordan Chapman made it two, converting a header from close range. Zanellato's first goal of the season secured all three points, as he skinned James Bree, and found the top corner from long range. Some of the football in that match was just electrifying, and it's no wonder that fans have flocked to see their side play in record numbers every game. Granted, Exeter haven't been quite as free scoring this season as they were last - Jordan Chapman and Danny Erhardt have both been guilty of going through long scoring droughts this year. Defensively however, Exeter have looked much more solid. Jarrad Branthwaite looks better with every game, Ki-Jana Hoever plays like someone who's been mentored by Virgil Van Dijk, and Harry Brockbank has brought a mature and calming presence to the field whenever he's been called upon. Credit must also go to Stephen Sessegnon, whose performances at left back have ensured that Adam Lewis hasn't been missed too much.

So what do we know about next season? We know that Exeter won't be playing at St James's Park, as it doesn't meet the Premier League minimum capacity rules yet. In an ironic twist of fate, Exeter will play their games at Bristol City's stadium, a one hours drive along the M5 away. Bristol City embarrassed Exeter at Wembley twelve months ago, but their stay in the Premier League has been short, suffering immediate relegation. Exeter fans will no doubt be sure to remind them that they can still see Premier League football at Ashton Gate this year. We also know that Neco Williams won't be at Exeter next year. After six loan spells at St James's Park, Liverpool decided that the Welsh right back didn't have a future at Anfield, and didn't offer him a new contract. But Williams opted to sign for Ligue One side Nimes on a pre-contract deal instead. Harvey Elliott on the other hand has agreed to stay another year, and it's believed that Branthwaite is likely to sign for free next season, with Everton not keen to give him a new deal. James is hopeful that Roberto Lopez and Jordan Chapman will sign new contracts, although the latter is drawing interest from Europa League II finalists Norwich and West Ham, both of whom would likely be willing to increase his wages dramatically.

A new dawn awaits Exeter City, and whilst their 2-1 win at Chelsea in the FA Cup showed how far they've come, their 6-3 loss at Anfield in the next round shows how far they've still got to go.
 

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The biggest month in our history. We keep Sheffield United bay with a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane, before victory over Barnsley seals promotion.

Alfie McCalmont gets his first goal since returning in the 3-0 win over Colchester, and although we lost at Sheffield Wednesday, we seal the title with a win over Stoke.

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We give Lloyd Jones a start on his last appearance for the club, whilst Ki-Jana Hoever scores on what will probably be his last appearance for the club too, as we can't sign two loan players from the same club under Prem rules.

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Lopez claims Player of the Season and Goal of the Season. He managed to grab 12 goals and 16 assists in a second very impressive season from the Spaniard. McCalmont claims Signing of the Season, whilst Chapman is named Young Player of the Season.

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Chapman also claims the Championship Golden Boot, impressive given that he went almost two months without a goal at one point.

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Exeter are healthily represented in the Team of the Season, with five players named.

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Some personal triumph too as I get the Manager of the Year award.

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Confirmation of the final table. We go up with Newcastle and Cardiff, who beat Brentford 2-0 in the Playoff Final. Hard luck to Adam Lewis, who fails to win promotion with Derby County...
 
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Sky Sports - Sports News, Transfers, Scores | Watch Live Sport


Coverage of Exeter vs Everton 10/08/2025

13:30

David Jones (DJ): The Premier League got back underway yesterday in incredible fashion yesterday, with 33 goals in just seven games. Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United were all big victors yesterday, can Liverpool make a similar start to the season? They play newly promoted Newcastle at home later, but first, one of the most intriguing matches of the weekend, as Exeter City play their first ever Premier League game, at home to Everton. We have Roy Keane, Alex Scott and Graeme Souness watching in the studio with us today. Alex, any surprises looking at the Exeter line-up today?

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Alex Scott (AS): It looks like they've both gone for a similar sort of shape. Exeter have left Roberto Lopez on the bench, with new signing from Lanus, Gaston Lodico, taking his place. Also was surprised to see Tom James sign Dani Carvajal from Real Madrid, he's made a habit of signing young players with bags of potential, such as Niccolo Del Vecchio, who makes his debut at left back today. Exeter fans will like that Rob Burton is starting today, he came through the academy during James's first season, and now 21, he makes his first appearance in the top flight.

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DJ: And what about Everton, Roy? They finished 11th last season, do you think they could surprise people this year?

Roy Keane (RK): (sighs) In short, no. They've made some really really uninspiring signings I think. Okay, this Carlo Greco fella did well for Lille last year, but how many times have we seen a big striker do well in France and then not live up to the hype in England. £20 million is a lot of money for an uncapped player, even in today's day and age. And that's their best signing I think. £18.75 million on Jagiello, the guy's 28 and has scored, what, nine goals in his career? Absolutely ludicrous.

DJ: (laughs) Well I can see that the summer break has really mellowed you out. Graeme, how do you see Exeter doing in this one?

Graeme Souness (GS): It's always difficult to tell. My worry is the defence with Exeter. Branthwaite and Jin-Wook are undoubtedly talented, but they're also both very young. I think James did the right thing in trying to sign Lascelles from Newcastle, but that broke down for whatever reason. But he doesn't seem to have tried to sign another experienced centre back. He bought in Rodri, a young centre back from Granada, but I feel they could have done with that leadership. Carvajal could be a good signing, although he barely played for Real Madrid last season, I hope he can keep up with the style of play James wants to play. It does looks like they've strengthened in attack though. I'm interested to see Marco Brunetti if he comes on today. He chose Exeter over clubs like Juventus, Bayern Munich and Lyon after he left Pescara for free, so he's obviously got something about him. Scored a hatful of goals in Serie B last season, will be interesting to see if he plays alongside Chapman long term.

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DJ: Well we have Tom James here right now, let's here from him, Tom hello!

Tom James (TJ): Hi there David.

DJ: Tom, a massive day for you here, can you tell us anything about your line-up today?

TJ: Sure thing. We had been planning to play Roberto Lopez as the 10 today, but he had a bit of a knock in training yesterday, so he's only really fit enough for the bench. But Gaston has trained well, and I have every confidence he can have a great debut here today. We decided to give Del Vecchio a debut from the start too, Stephen Sessegnon isn't quite match fit yet. And Dani is an amazing football with a wealth of experience and ability, I have faith that he can help us in so many ways this season.

DJ: You're playing at Ashton Gate this season, do you think that'll have any effect on the players?

TJ: Obviously we'd like to be playing our home games in Exeter, and we appreciate that having to do a two hour round trip every other weekend to see us play isn't ideal for the fans. But I believe that the board are making plans to extend St James's Park, and we hope that soon we'll be able to bring Premier League football to Devon properly. I think the players should be fine, it's obviously a much bigger stadium, but we're used to playing in front of big crowds these days.

DJ: I'll let you go in a minute, but can you tell us briefly what you want to achieve this season?

TJ: We're under no illusions that this is going to be a difficult season, but I think we've definitely got enough to stay up. If we can avoid getting dragged into a relegation battle this year, that'll be good enough for me.

DJ: Tom thank you, and good luck.

13:55

DJ: Well as we can see the players getting ready in the tunnel, we'll pass you over to today's commentators, Martin Tyler and Jamie Carragher.

Martin Tyler (MT): Thank you David. And what a moment this is for Tom James and Exeter City. They've become one of the most talked about sides in England this summer, and now is the time to live up to the hype. With Lopez on the bench, it's Niccolo Zanellato who leads the side out today for their first ever Premier League game. Jamie, what are you looking forward to seeing today?

Jamie Carragher (JC): As a Liverpool fan, I'm looking forward to seeing how Harvey Elliott does today. Ya know, he's had a few great seasons in the Championship, but this is his first Premier League game since he was at Fulham seven years ago, so big test for him today. Also will be interesting to see how Branthwaite does against his former club. It must have hurt him that Everton didn't want to offer him a new contract, particularly after he performed so well on loan at Exeter last year. He could really prove a point today if he manages to keep a clean sheet.

MT: Well we'll have all the action coming up for you shortly on our first Super Sunday of the season, AND IT'S LIVE.
 

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Sky Sports - Sports News, Transfers, Scores | Watch Live Sport


Continued coverage of Exeter vs Everton 10/08/2025

14:00

MT: After a summer of waiting for Exeter fans, they finally have their first taste of Premier League football. They may be in Bristol, an hour away from their beloved St James's Park stadium, but to be fair, few could have predicted Exeter's rise to the top six years ago.

14:02 PENALTY

MT: Everton passing it round the back, Exeter are struggling to get near the ball early on, although Holgate's attempted pass down the left is cut out by Elliott. Zanellato has it now, launches it forward to Chapman, who's through on goal here...

JC: Ohhh that's a penalty!

MT: The referee consults VAR, and yes, he gives the penalty to Exeter, and what a start to life in the top flight this could be. Weston McKennie clumsily tackles Jordan Chapman, and he was lucky that there were Everton players in support, or else that could have been a red card too. Harvey Elliott to take the penalty, can he get Exeter's first ever Premier League goal? Yes he can!

JC: Jordan Pickford guesses the right way but Elliott placed the ball so perfectly that he couldn't get anywhere near it.

MT: Well as a Liverpool player, you have to think that goal must mean even more to him, and he rushes over to the Exeter fans, who absolutely adore him.

14:12 CHANCE

JC: Jagiello has the ball in Exeter's half, but Zanellato dispossesses him. His long ball reaches Chapman, the second time today he's split open the defence like that. He runs past Holgate like he's not there, and OOOOO only a stunning save from Pickford keeps the scoreline at 1-0.

MT: Chapman and Zanellato have both been excellent so far, it's almost like they're telepathic.

14:14 GOAL

MT: Rob Burton has the ball in midfield now, he finds Del Vecchio on the left hand side. He plays a through ball forward, cut out by Amaral but only as far as Del Vecchio again, who pulls it back for Erhardtttttttttt 2-0.

JC: Oooo Jordan Pickford won't want to see that one again. He gets beaten far too easily at his near post, he can't be letting those ones in.

14:40 GOAL

MT: Corner for Exeter, Lodico to take. He swings it in ELLIOTTTTTTTTT

JC: Well Tom James couldn't have dreamed for a much better first half than this. It's Elliott's second of the afternoon, and you've got to think it's game over now.

15:03 CHANCE

MT: Everton looking slightly more lively after the break, perhaps Jesse Marsch gave them the hairdryer treatment at half time. Greco has the ball, we've not seen much from Everton's big money signing yet. Oooo that's good play from the former Everton man Branthwaite, he forces Greco onto his weak foot, and Perisan deals with the shot easily.

15:10 GOAL

MT: Zanellato has the ball again, he finds Lodico, who lays it off to Elliott. Pinpoint pass to Chapman, GOAAAAAL! It's the goal Chapman deserved, he's won the Championship golden boot two years in a row and now he has a Premier League goal to his name.

JC: You can see how much it means to him as he runs towards the home fans. He signed from the Welsh league when Exeter were a League One side, and he's just improved and improved ever since. No one will be prouder of him than Tom James right now.

15:12 GOAL

JC: Exeter can smell blood now, Everton have given up. Erhardt has the ball in the middle of the pitch, plays a nice ball ahead of Chapman, he brushes past Holgate like he's not there and it's 5!

MT: The Exeter City fans are in delirium, don't think anyone predicted this scoreline.

15:50 FULL TIME

MT: And to the relief of the Everton fans, Kevin Friend blows the full time whistle. Tom James is already on the pitch, hugging every one of his players. That has to be the best ever performance I've seen from a side in their first ever Premier League match. A day Exeter City will never forget.

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