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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
20:21 15th August 2009

Exeter City 1 Norwich City 1

So on a stiflingly hot day at the Park, City earn their first League One point of the season thanks to a Richard Logan header in front of an impressive 6357 supporters, including an equally impressive 1000+ who'd made the 300 mile trip from East Anglia. City lined up: Jones; Duffy, Taylor, Archibald-Henville, Tully; Harley, Cozic, Russell, Sercombe; Stewart, Norwood.
A couple of changes from Tuesday then, with Troy replacing Dan Seaborne, Tully replacing red card miscreant Golbourne and Norwood swapping benchwarming duties with McAllister. As it was it was City who made the best of the opening exchanges with Harley firing the first meaningful strike of the game with a drilled 25 yarder that had the keeper scrambling seven minutes in.
Five minutes later Norwich set off on a lightning break and in a two on two race to goal the forward rounded Jones and looked to have guided the ball into an empty net from the edge of the box, but as he peeled away to celebrate Tully appeared from nowhere to blast the ball off the line and away to safety.
City responded a couple of minutes later when Russell showed clever awareness to feed Stewart in the box from a very quickly taken free kick on the left. However Stewart lost his bearings a little and steered his volley wide when well placed six yards out.
In the 21st minute City old boy Matt Gill finally made his presence felt with his first real contribution of the game. A Norwich corner was flicked out to the far corner of the box where Gill was on hand to smash a first time effort towards the roof of the goal, but Jones was more than equal to it and tipped over comfortably.
On the half hour we were treated to a great passage of play when good work from Norwood, Cozic and Harley fashioned a cross towards the far post, however Norwood and Sercombe got in each other's way and the cross was cleared, eventually falling to the charging Duffy who unleashed a 30 yard effort that whizzed harmlessly high and wide. Sixty seconds later the ball was crossed to Cozic on the right of the box where he turned expertly before fizzing a stunning drive across the face of goal and just past the far post in the final action of note of an even first half which promised much for the second.
And so it was when the second half kicked off that City continued their good work with the first chance of the half in the very first minute. Neat work from Stewart on the touchline saw the ball inside to the scampering Sercombe, but in two minds he smashed a cross/shot across the penalty area that evaded the onrushing strikers that turned out to rather wastefully be neither a cross or shot.
Ironically with City in the ascendency for probably the first time in a pretty even game, it was Norwich who opened the scoring in the sixth minute. Midfielder Simon Whaley stunned City with a full blooded thirty yard drive that smashed onto the crossbar via Jones' fingertips, and from the resulting corner it was 1-0 to the visitors when City - as they did so often against QPR on Tuesday - failed to cut out a ball to the far post as Dario Dumic rose purposefully to butt home from close range.
City looked deflated and also devoid of ideas too - the opening 12 minutes not being what manager Tisdale intended, so to spice things up, and probably earlier than intended, it was time to introduce McAllister and Logan - a ploy that worked so often last season - at the expense of Bertie and Norwood. Ridiculously it had an immediate effect as Try fed the ball to Stewart wide out on the right where he launched a high inswinging cross in the box. Logie rose above two defenders and with his very first touch in League One this season powered a header low into the far corner to send three sides of the ground into delirium with a goal not entirely dissimilar to Norwich's opener.
The game ebbed and flowed for much of the remainder of the game with no little skill but precious little goalmouth action, however on the half hour City fashioned a chance when Tully charged down the right and played the ball into Russell in the box. Cleverly Russell dinked a cheeky chip to the far corner, but it lacked the power or height to beat the keeper and he had an easy collect. A minute later it was Sercombe's turn to belt down the right after receiving the ball after good work from Logan, but his far post cross was volleyed marginally wide by Harley.
A couple of minutes later during a proper purple patch from City McAllister crossed from the right was smashed towards goal by Russell 25 yards out, but despite huge appeals from the players and the majority of the Big Bank, the ref was having none of it claiming the defender chested the ball rather than handled it. Fair enough.
The final action of a thoroughly enjoyable game came right on the stroke of full time when Harley played the ball into Russell from wide on the left, but his 30 yard daisycutter flew just wide and that was that.
A pretty decent performance then, on the back of, strangely, despite the horrendous scoreline, a pretty decent performance in midweek. However, what is glaringly obvious is that when you step up a level your chances have to be taken and your mistakes are punished more severely. One thing we have to do is learn to defend the far post cross, it's where they scored today, and where QPR created a hatful of chances from on Tuesday. Having criticised the defence, it has to be said that our two centre backs were exceptional today, and it was good to see Tully back in the line up too. Matt Taylor, despite getting caught out for the goal, had a towering game, and pushed Marcus Stewart close for my man of the match award.
In midfield again, like Tuesday, Cozic, Sercombe and Russell worked extremely hard, but all three were overshadowed by the sublime skills of Ryan Harley - especially in the first half - when despite any amount of pressure he always had time and space to make a pass or receive a pass. And he's tackling this season too, even earning himself a booking for clattering an unfortunate defender late on!
Up front James Norwood, although a little raw and naive at times, showed tremendous determination and energy and chased hard for everything. In time the awareness and cleverness will come, and it's only a matter of time before he finds himself on the scoresheet. His strike partner, Marcus Stewart, showed how it's done though, showing skill and craft and a work rate to put many to shame, especially in that heat. He came into his own dropping back into midfield when the two big lads came on, and special mention must be made of their contributions because it was their introduction that changed the game in City's favour.
Logie's goal was typical Logie, but he also put in an awful lot of work besides that too, as did McAllister, who won virtually every header he challenged for, giving the Norwich defence a torrid time in the air for the first time in the game.
So when's the first win coming then? Well, it could be as soon as Tuesday if we can sort the set piece defending out. Our midfield looks strong and capable, and the attack is - formation-wise at least - the same as last season's, so not much wrong there either. And our actual play, tactics and application look good too, so there's no reason why we can't hold our own in this division.
Tuesday it is then, and the visit of near neighbours Yeovil, who we haven't played in a competitive fixture in a lifetime. I know it's a lot of games in quick succession, and I know that in these troubled times it's very hard on the pocket, but I'm sure the players and management appreciate your terrific support, which was magnificent today. Keep it going - and keep coming - and it won't be long before your efforts are rewarded with our maiden League One three point haul. Can you afford to miss that game, whenever it might be? No, course you can't - see you there on Tuesday.
    Data provided by Press Association