RYAN Bowman scored a second half hat-trick as Exeter City thrashed Colchester United 6-1 at St James Park with five of their goals coming after the break.

Matt Jay’s delightful flick put Exeter in front at the break and they went on to win in convincing style with second half goals from Joel Randall and a hat-trick from Bowman from a combined distance of about six yards!

Colchester, without an away win since March, had hoped to avenge a play-off semi-final defeat to the Grecians back in June, but they were well beaten by the stylish Grecians, although Michael Folivi did bag a consolation for them.  

Exeter made two changes to the side that lost to Oldham. Tom Parkes and Josh Key returned from injury and replaced Rory McArdle, who dropped to the bench, and Jake Caprice, who was injured.

Goal celebrations for Joel Randall of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Colchester United at St James Park, Exeter on 24 Nov. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The Grecians started well with Jay heading over the bar inside the first two minutes, but Colchester responded with Javani Brown getting in and firing straight at Jokull Andresson from 18 yards.

Jay again went close with a shot that he dragged across the face of goal before Randell Williams delivered a fine cross across the face of goal, but Randall somehow put it over the bar, sliding in at the back post.

The Grecians were playing some lovely football, but without testing the goalkeeper enough and another wonderful move, involving Williams and Key, led to the latter crossing for Jay, who miscued his shot.

However, the deadlock was broken on 21 minutes and it was another lovely move. Bowman took the ball down well and fed Randall, who showed great wing play before delivering low to the near post where Jay flicked in with the cutest of finishes.

Goal celebrations for Matt Jay of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Colchester United at St James Park, Exeter on 24 Nov. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Matt Jay of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Colchester United at St James Park, Exeter on 24 Nov. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

City continued to impress and Bowman saw his header from a Williams corner hacked off the line and Key sent the second into the arms of Dean Gerken.

The Grecians got into good positions often, but their decision to cross or set someone else up to cross was costing them as they failed to make the most of their dominance. From one excellent breakaway, Jay crossed but Bowman could only stretch and guide an effort wide of the post with Williams lurking in behind and with the better chance to score.

City ended the half in the ascendancy and should have doubled their lead when Jay was played in on the right but he dragged his shot wide of goal.

It was a fantastic half from City with the only criticism being the fact they were not winning by more goals. They certainly had the chances, but did not hit the target enough. Thankfully, it was not to cost them as they played just as well after the break

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Goal celebrations for Ryan Bowman of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Colchester United at St James Park, Exeter on 24 Nov. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
Goal celebrations for Ryan Bowman of Exeter City during the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Colchester United at St James Park, Exeter on 24 Nov. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Colchester, out ridiculously early for the second half, made a triple change with Luke Norris, Callum Harriott and Folivi replacing Miles Welch-Hayes, Noah Chilvers and Kwame Poku.

Jay missed another great chance early on, which was saved by Gerken and his follow up headed over the bar and from the resulting corner, Randall also missed a great chance to double City’s lead.

Finally, the second goal came on 54 minutes. Williams sent Jay scampering clear and this time, he laid the ball on a plate for Randall to tap in from close range.

The Grecians then added a wonderful third two minutes later. A lovely move ended with Jack Sparkes delivering the perfect cross for Bowman to slide in and convert from close range. Suddenly, the scoreline was more reflective of City’s complete dominance.

They were served a reminder of Colchester’s danger when Norris let fly, but Andresson was equal to it and from the resulting corner, Thomas Eastman headed over the bar.

Norris headed over the bar as Exeter eased up a little, but the fourth goal came on 71 minutes – and it was another high quality goal as Randall skinned his man with some sensational wing play and fired low across goal for Bowman to touch in on the line.

Randall’s performance really was something special, but that was his last act as he was replaced by Alex Hartridge. And almost immediately, the side from Essex pulled one back as Folivi got the better of Hartridge and fired in off the far post.

Williams sent a half volley narrowly over the bar from 20 yards before Nicky Ajose and Nigel Atangana came on for the last ten with Archie Collins and Williams making way.

City were in cruise control now and added the icing and cherry to their cake in stoppage time. Sparkes saw his effort crash back off the bar and Bowman was on hand to complete his hat-trick and then Ajose struck the post with Jay on hand to finish a great night’s work for the highly impressive Grecians. 





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