The Ant Moxey Report
So on a warm and sunny afternoon at the Park City run out fully deserved 3-0 winners over a very ordinary looking Brentford side in front of an impressive 5355 supporters. City lined up: Marriott; Golbourne, Seaborne, Taylor, Tully; Noone, Cozic, Russell, Dunne; Fleetwood, Stewart.
After the usual sizing each other up during the opening exchanges it was City who had the first opportunities to open the scoring against last year's League Two Champions. In the fifth minute Noone crossed for Stewart to attempt a long range header from the edge of the box that flew harmlessly over, then three minutes later with their next attack they took the lead.
A corner from the right in front of the massed Brentford fans found its way out to Taylor lurking in the far corner of the box where he had the presence to calmly lay it back for Cozic 20 yards out. Sidestepping a defender, Bertie flashed a shot goalwards that scuffed its way in via a deflection to give City a 1-0 lead.
For the next half an hour any real chances were virtually zero as both defences mopped up anything their opposing forwards could throw at them, but nevertheless, despite the Brentford players spending more time on the floor than a badly worn carpet, it was an enjoyable affair with plenty of honest endeavour from City looking to find a way of increasing their lead.
They had a chance with five minutes remaining though, but Matt Taylor's huge jump saw him nod a corner harmlessly wide before City finally did score a second just as the fourth official raised the board to signal two minutes of stoppage time. Fleetwood, showing an unbelievable turn of pace, robbed a defender on the touchline in front of the players' tunnel before being upended on the edge of the box. Russell drilled the free kick across goal where a defender cleared but only as far as Tully lurking centrally 18 yards out. In one single motion Tully gleefully struck the sweetest volley to crash an unstoppable Exocet into the back of the net via the underside of the bar to make it 2-0 to City.
Wow, what a way to end the half! But soon enough it was time for the second half to commence, and immediately City were pressing for a third. Fleetwood's eighth minute challenge won the ball and set up Noone but his blast across goal was marginally wide, then following a couple of minutes of intense pressure on the Brentford goal Noone again blasted wide when in a good position 25 yards out. With the ball eventually ending up in the City half it was Noone who broke down the left before whipping in a cross from deep that narrowly evaded the rushing Fleetwood at the far post.
City survived a bit of a scare in the 20th minute when a ball into the box appeared to strike Taylor on the arm, but in fairness the only real appeal came from the Brentford fans behind the City goal rather than the players and bench. With the ref not even remotely interested the ball was soon back up the Brentford end and played into Noone stationed centrally just outside the box with his back to goal. All of a sudden from nothing he turned and unleashed a wicked drive just inside the post to make the game safe at 3-0 with the keeper rooted to the spot.
Two minutes later came the most controversial of an increasingly bizarre set of refereeing decisions when Dunne and a defender tangled on the touchline, Dunne fell into Stewart who in turn fell into the defender and all three ended up in a heap on the floor. Incredibly the ref decided all of this was Stewart's fault and as well as awarding a free kick to Brentford gave Stewart a yellow card for his troubles too. His second of the game as well, the first coming for an equally innocuous nothing challenge in the first half meaning Stewart was off and City had to play the remaining half of the half with ten men.
Not that you'd notice as City continued to push forward. In the 28th minute Fleetwood made way for Corr - presumably Tisdale thinking Corr more suited to holding the line up front on his own - then with just ten minutes remaining Brentford had their first genuine shot on target when the normally deadly Charlie McDonald found space in the City box but could do little better than hit a powder puff effort straight at Marriott. Then with five minutes left Noone made way for Harley and that was pretty much that, job done.
And job done it most certainly was. City were well worth the three points, and well worth the three goals too. In the previous two away games they'd suffered a couple of heavy defeats so this was pretty much the perfect response securing four points from back to back home games. In goal Marriott had one of the easiest games he's had in years, and this was largely down to the four in front of him.
Seaborne and Taylor were simply immense and had the dangerous Brentford pairing of McDonald and the giant Carl Cort in their pockets all afternoon. Scott Golbourne at left back had one of his best games in a City shirt, and the honest and hardworking Tully was rewarded for his patience on the sidelines recently with a lovely goal.
In the middle Cozic and Russell added much needed bite giving the two wide players - Noone and Dunne - time and space to play. Up front Fleetwood at times was electric, but it was the wise old head of Stewart who stole the show in attack with a fine performance that would surely have seen him in contention for the man of the match award had it not been for his ludicrous sending off.
But never mind that, this was a good battling performance from City with everyone contributing to a good team effort and getting their just rewards for their endeavour. Hopefully they can take this forward to Nuneaton next week, who they visit in the first round of the FA Cup, before resuming league action the following weekend with tricky consecutive Saturdays away at Colchester and Stockport respectively before we return to the Park in a whopping three weeks' time for the visit of Millwall.
Hopefully by then we'll be thinking about who our second round opponents will be and have a decent haul of points under our belts, but whatever the outcome of the upcoming fixtures it's an awfully long wait until we're back in action here at the Park, where I'm sure once again you'll pack the stands and get behind the lads. It's a long time to wait, but I'm sure it'll be worth it, especially if today is anything to go by. See you then.
The majority of our match reports are the views of our volunteer writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Exeter City Football Club.