EXETER City’s 11th hour decision to replace intended goalkeeper Jonny Maxted with Lewis Ward played a key part in this afternoon’s table topping clash between Swindon Town and Exeter City.

City manager Matt Taylor informed Town boss Richie Wellens of his last-minute change 20 minutes before kick-off, prompting a slight change to Wellens’ pre-match team talk.

He instructed Michael Doughty to deliver wicked inswinging deliveries from the corner flag, hoping that Ward – who only had minutes to mentally prepare for this afternoon’s hugely anticipated clash – would fumble one or two of his catches.

As it transcribed, Ward initially played rather well between the sticks and rarely fluffed his lines. But a punch that daw the ball rebound off of Archie Collins’ head fortuitously opened Town’s account before Hallam Hope later struck the hosts’ match-winner.

Wellens said: “Matt (Taylor) knocked on my door 20 minutes before kick-off and asked if it’s okay for them to change their ‘keeper.

“If you’re a ‘keeper and know you’re not playing, it can be difficult to mentally prepare yourself.

“We wanted to inswing those first few corners, though I don’t think the first goal is the ‘keeper’s fault – it’s just a lucky goal to be honest.

“The second was something we identified, Hallam (Hope) is a threat at the back post so long as he doesn’t get in there too early.

“Diallang Jaiyesimi stood it up really well.”

High winds arguably put a dampener on this afternoon’s game, which was attended by more than 13,000 fans.

Play was often scrappy, and the second half was drab in particular with neither ‘keeper tested as often as they should be.

Regardless, Wellens was pleased by Hope’s clinical finish for Town’s second and insisted his players made pressure pay.

He added: “The conditions weren’t great, we’ve played in conditions like Saturday before.

“We caused them a lot of problems in the first half, and the goal just before half time was massive.

“We struggled to get out in the second half and Exeter scored us problems – it was a game of two halves where both teams were on top when they had the wind behind them.

“We just took our chances, and our line was that bit higher than Exeter’s in the first half.

“We made pressure pay, but knew things wouldn’t be easy in the second half – though we withstood Exeter’s pressure.

“I can’t remember Steven (Benda) making a save, so it’s a good win.”