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18:50 13th April 2009

Exeter City 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0

So on a bright and sunny afternoon at the Park, a stand-busting 8183 supporters saw City guarantee themselves at least a play-off spot with a wonderful 1-0 win over promotion rivals Wycombe Wanderers and move up from fourth to second in the table with only three games remaining. City lined up: Jones; Edwards, Archibald-Henville, Tully; Moxey, Gill, Harley, Cozic, Sercombe; Basham, Fleetwood.
With City still celebrating a superb point at league leaders Brentford two days ago, it was a good job Jones was wide awake to make a superb double save onto the post inside the opening sixty seconds. For the next 26 minutes however, the two sides were well matched with neither side really threatening the other's goal. If anything, it was the visitors who had the better of the exchanges, but they couldn't make it tell and never properly tested Jones during that period.
In fact it wasn't until near the half hour mark that City had their first real effort on goal - a clearance only finding Gill some 30 yards out, but his low drive lacked the punch to trouble the keeper. A minute later it was a different matter though when Jones' huge punt saw Fleetwood give chase where he burst through a couple of defenders before firing in a stinging drive that the keeper smothered at the second attempt after allowing the ball to squirm through his legs.
With ten minutes of the half remaining Deano and Gill worked a smart corner routine that saw Troy head back across goal where Bash looped a header towards the top corner that rebounded off the bar where it was cleared to safety. Five minutes later Cozic sent through a delicious defence splitter inviting Fleetwood to give chase, but it was hit half an inch too firmly and the keeper was out sharpish to smother before Fleetwood could pounce.
But it wasn't enough for manager Tisdale as he remained on the pitch with his subs during the interval giving instructions, and sure enough as the second half commenced Logan and McAllister had replaced Sercombe and Basham as City reverted from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 formation with Deano dropping back into a more conventional full back role - but still with license to join the midfield and make it 3-4-3, and Logie and Mac playing upfront either side of Fleetwood. This almost paid immediate dividends when Bertie send Deano down the left flank in the first minute where his cross was met by Logie, but his thumping header was blocked at source and cleared.
A minute later a throw on the left was collected by fellow substitute McAllister, but his low drive was dragged wide of the near post from the corner of the box. Two minutes later in a frenetic start to the half Harley sent Fleetwood scampering and from an impossibly tight angle he smashed the ball onto the bar and over.
But it wasn't all City though, and while we all drew breath Wycombe broke and earned themselves a corner which wasn't dealt with properly until Harley headed off the line with Jones nowhere for once. This livened Wycombe up somewhat, and once again the two teams cancelled each other out, until Matt Gill had other ideas in the 18th minute.
Harley's superb deep cross from the half way line evaded both Logan and a defender, but fell kindly to Gill almost right on the goal line on the edge of the six yard box. In one mesmeric movement, Gill smashed the ball first time across the face of the goal and in at the far post from an impossibly tight angle to send the place into delirium with a goal the equal of the three goal of the season contenders from Fleetwood in the previous two matches.
City's tails were visibly lifted, and they pressed on for a second in a mad couple of minutes where it was hard to find the time to draw breath. Fleetwood and Logan exchanged a couple of smart passes before freeing Harley on the left corner of the box, but his sumptuous dipping swerving volley was expertly tipped over for a corner. Deano fired the corner in, but McAllister could only look on in disbelief as his near post header smashed against the bar before being cleared. The clearance wasn't good though, and eventually the ball fell to Edwards some 25 yards out and he again was forced to look on in horror as his arrow straight Exocet was once again tipped away for a corner by the seriously overworked Wycombe keeper.
But yet again Wycombe refused to lie down and play second fiddle to a rampant City, and Jones had to be at his very best to tip a fierce 25 yard drive round the post from a rare Wycombe break. With the visitors creeping back into the game, McAllister was withdrawn with five minutes to go to enable Panther to enter the fray and help shore up a hard working midfield. The plan worked perfectly as although Wycombe enjoyed marginally the better of the remaining minutes, City defended stoutly and never gave them much of a look in as they recorded a famous win and continued opposition manager Peter Taylor's miserable record at the Park.
And what a cracking win it was too. Under the cosh for much of the first half, City showed tremendous character and resilience to battle back take the game to a very big and strong Wycombe side. Everyone battled as though their lives depended on it, and in the end the win was fully deserved - not just for the quality of the strike, but also for the three times they hit the bar too.
In goal once again Jones was strong and assured, with good handling and by and large decent distribution too. That he wasn't that overworked - despite their possession - had a lot to do with the battling of Tully on the right and aerial power of Edwards and in particular Troy in the middle. Speaking of middle, it was a deserved man of the match award that Matt Gill received for his stirring performance at the heart of the City engine room. He also has the ability to spot the most obvious of passes, and rarely gave the ball away. Unfortunately his fellow midfielders were guilty as charged during a particularly scrappy opening period, but in the second half Harley, Gill, and Cozic rarely put a foot wrong and more than matched their counterparts.
Up front we were treated to another Fleetwood masterclass, with darting runs here and there, harrying of defenders and also an eye for an opportunity on goal. Supported in the first half by Basham, and then in the second half more effectively by Logan and McAllister, the Wycombe back line were certainly made to earn their corn, particularly in the second period.
And what next then? Well, Lincoln next Saturday for starters, before we're back at the Park for the visit of Morecambe then the final game of the season away at Rotherham. All three are eminently winnable, and our superb return of four points from the Easter period put us in a strong position for an assault on not only an automatic promotion spot, but the title itself.
Who would have thought that 12 months ago when we were losing at Weymouth? No-one I guess, and I doubt we even dreamt it, let alone though it, yet here we are with three games to sat in second place in the division and guaranteed a play-off spot at the very worst.
Unbelievable eh? Well, no actually, this is as real as it gets, and with the utterly fantastic support you've given the lads - 1700 travelled to Brentford on Saturday and over 8,000 here today - of late, then there's no reason to believe we can't be the twelfth man that pushes the team to a second successive promotion for the first time in the club's history.
I mean, it doesn't get any better than this does it, so see you all at the final three games of a pulsating season as we grab the glory we so richly deserve. See you at Lincoln.
    Data provided by Press Association