Tommy Conway states his case as Bristol City draw with Exeter City in penultimate pre-season friendly

Robins came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the final warm-up game at the High Performance Centre.
Bristol City drew 2-2 with Exeter City.Bristol City drew 2-2 with Exeter City.
Bristol City drew 2-2 with Exeter City.

Game two of the afternoon. After a fine win over Forest Green Rovers, 3-1, it was a harder task against the League Two runners-up.

A weaker side was fielded and Exeter City took advantage in the early stages, with midfielder Josh Coley opening the scoring in the first quarter of an hour, and Hartridge doubling the lead in the second period.

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Though Bristol City lost Duncan Idehen and Han-Noah Massengo to knocks during the game (declared as illness and a dead leg respectively) the home side were boosted by Alex Scott joining the fray after his international duties for the England U19s this summer.

Another Robins young player stole the headline however, as 19-year-old Tommy Conway continues to make his mark in BS3. The academy striker netted twice late in the game - both times set up by Nahki Wells - to ensure Bristol City remained unbeaten across pre-season (five games) and offer further evidence that Nigel Pearson possesses several top talents in attack at Failand.

It’s Bournemouth on the south coast on Saturday before the real thing and Hull away.

What happened

After 10 minutes Josh Key crossed, with Exeter pushing forward, and Tim Dieng headed just wide, with Timm Klose beaten in the air.

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But the Grecians were not so profligate with their next attack: Jake Caprice played a good ball forward and team-mate Coley volleyed past the onrushing Max O’Leary to set the away side.

Some smart footwork and a shot over the bar from Andy King on 17 minutes illustrated Bristol City’s response to going behind, before an early change as young defender Raphael Araoye replaced Idehen, who had picked up an early knock.

Meanwhile Jevani Brown chipped over the bar before Conway dallied with the ball in the area wasting the chance to get a shot on goal.

But the Taunton-born striker then carved open the Exeter defence as he released fellow froward Sam Bell through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, only for goalkeeper Harry Lee to save with his legs.

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Just after half an hour another knock, as Massengo departed the game early to be replaced by Omar Taylor-Clarke.

In the last seconds of the first half Max O’Leary denied Sam Nombe from close range as the forward gained space away from Klose.

Brown then missed a glorious chance in the seconds after the restart to extend Exeter’s lead as the Jamaican forward could not finish off a low cross from the visitors’ right.

A loose Ryley Towler pass also let Nombe in on goal but the Grecian fired wide with the goal gaping.

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Key fired over the bar on 56 minutes and the side from down the M5 were holding the home side at bay.

A Caprice cross found Dieng in the box and Exeter hit the woodwork with Key volleying just over minutes later too. Matt Taylor’s side were now well on top.

And the second goal duly arrived as Pierce Sweeney crossed from Bristol City’s left and Hartridge ghosted in behind Ryley Towler to head in at the back post.

With Alex Scott enjoying his first taste of pre-season following international involvement, the Robins were not out of the game though: one sparkling run saw the former Guernsey FC attacker ghost past three tackles with some sublime footwork, with the final shot just dragged wide.

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But Conway did better when sub OmarTaylor-Clarke did well, as Wells found space down the right and cleverly pulled the ball back for his strike partner to tap home.

And a second Conway goal with four minutes remaining restored parity to the game, as Wells again set up the score: backheeling to play in his fellow forward again, with Conway curling in on his left foot.

It finished 2-2 with Bristol City on the up and unable to snatch the win when Bell’s close range finish was blocked following another good Conway cross.

Who stood out

James Taylor - the young wing-back put in a steady shift and showed a nice turn of heel as he won a free kick down the left in the first half. Replaced by Scott in the second half.

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Tommy Conway - a pinpoint through-ball set team-mate Bell in on goal for the best chance of the first 45. Looked sharp; City need to get him the ball as much as possible. Another pre-season goal was well deserved (making it three in five across this summer so far, with the goal against Cheltenham too).

Nahki Wells - a quiet forst 60 minutes but then two assists to bring Bristol City back into the game. Signs that Conway and Wells can be a good forward partnership? Wells explained himself on Saturday, after the Plymouth win, that he believes so following the pair playing together enough in U23s games.

Who has work to do

Duncan Idehen - the young defender squandered possession too many times though he was later declared as being unwell, coming off early in the first half.

Sam Bell - the young forward was unable to finish the best chance of the first half after missing a similar opportunity against Portsmouth, with just the keeper to beat. No doubt if the chances keep coming he will take one eventually though. A poor pass stopped City getting in on goal on 73 minutes when better execution would have created a one-on-one opportunity.

Starting teams

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Bristol City (3-4-1-2): O’Leary; Idehen (Araoye), Klose, Towler; Wilson, Massengo (Taylor-Clarke), King, Taylor (Scott); Bell; Conway, Wells

Exeter City: Lee, Caprice, Sweeney, Diabate, Hartridge, Key, Collins, Dieng, Collins, Nombe, Brown

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