The Ant Moxey Report
So after a seemingly never ending run of successive away games, footy starved Grecians turn out in numbers on the filthiest of nights at the Park as a whopping 5732 fans see ten man City snatch an unlikely point late on in a 1-1 draw against a very physical Millwall side.
City lined up: Marriott; Golbourne, Seaborne, Taylor, Tully, Cozic, Russell, Harley; Stewart, Corr, Fleetwood.
With a ferocious gale in their faces, combined with driving rain, City began the match attacking the away end, and it has to be said making a better fist of coping with the weather than their opponents. In the second minute Corr chested the ball down to Stewart on the edge of the box, but his shot lacked sufficient power to trouble the keeper.
A much better chance came in the 12th minute when Russell whipped in a free kick from just outside the corner of the box that Corr flicked goalwards, but this time although the power was the there, it was straight at the keeper. Golbourne and Fleetwood combined in superb fashion down the left flank before Fleets drilled a cross to Stewart ghosting in at the near post, unfortunately he butted inches wide from close range. Then in the 20th minute Harley jinked past a couple of defenders before scuffing a daisycutter straight to the keeper from 15 yards.
And then we had a Millwall attack! Unfortunately for City Bertie Cozic's attentions were a little too close to David Martin as he bustled his way into the box for referee Simon Hooper's liking, and after seeing Martin apparently hauled to the turf had a think about it before pointing to the spot, much to the complete and utter incredulity of everyone associated with the colours red and white.
Martin remained unfazed though, and stepped up to expertly slam the penalty high into the net giving Marriott no chance whatsoever to put the visitors 1-0 up. And that was about as good as it got for the remainder of the half as both teams struggled to develop any sort of coherent passing game in the face of the increasingly worsening weather.
No matter, for in the second half City would have the wind and rain at their backs and be all out attack towards the Big Bank end. Or so you'd think. It looked that way in the second minute when Ryan Harley stepped up to take a 25 yard free kick, however unlike the blistering effort at Colchester from a not too dissimilar position, then again at Stockport on Saturday, it was not to be three in a row as the ball ballooned harmlessly over the bar by some margin.
With less than ten minutes played came the most controversial decision of the night. Tully slid in for a challenge on Andy Frampton right in front of the dug-outs, couldn't stop for a good ten yards, and with Frampton rolling around as if he'd broken both legs, was promptly issued with his second yellow card of the night and sent for an early bath. Naturally Frampton miraculously made a full and immediate recovery and was able to continue after the merest dabs of the magic sponge, but what else was Tully to do when attempting a challenge and sliding - studs down - the length of both dug-outs on the soaking wet surface?
Anyways, the game continued with Cozic being sacrificed five minutes later so that Duffy could take Tully's place as City reverted to a 4-2-3 formation. Millwall definitely had the upper hand in terms of both possession and passing, and seemed to cope far better having the wind in their faces. But seeing the game beginning to slip away with the ball increasingly being played in the City half, manager Tisdale withdrew Corr and Fleetwood and introduced Stansfield and Logan into the fray.
It seemed a futile gesture as Millwall continued to dominate and looked the more likely side to score. Indeed Steve Morison really should have made the game safe for the visitors crashing a towering header inches wide of the far post from close range when it seemed easier to score, then five minutes later after going on a weavy run through the City defence Morison went even closer curling a delicious strike around Marriott but unfortunately onto the post where it cannoned back and away to safety.
City weren't quite done for though, despite not having a single shot on target for 40 minutes of the half, as Logan gave the keeper something to do hitting a scissor kick straight at the keeper from a corner after the previous corner had caught on the wind and been expertly tipped over before it had chance to dip in under the bar.
But then the moment we'd been waiting for finally arrived with two minutes remaining: Duffy sent Stansfield chasing a quick throw in down the right channel, and getting close to the touchline Stans looked up and whipped in a crossbar height ball inviting someone to get their head on it. No one had the chance though, as once again the wind caught hold of it and despite the keeper's furious backpedalling there was nothing he could do to prevent it whistling over his outstretched fingers and into the net via the far post to give City a vital point in the most unlikeliest of circumstances.
But what did we care, to be honest it felt like a win and that's how we celebrated the final minutes of stoppage time. If truth be told it was an undeserved point as we'd done little in the second half to warrant one with all of the play coming from Millwall, albeit that for the majority of the half City were down to ten men.
However, despite a performance that won't go down as a classic it does highlight a serious point - we are no mugs in this division, we are here on merit and we work hard as a team right to the very last whistle. So perhaps in that respect a point was the least we deserved, especially after the sending off of Tully, which looked questionable to say the least.
As for the rest of the players, well it's hard to pick anyone out for either good or bad performances tonight. All have played better, all have played worse. Collectively they dug in well, but Millwall were a proper handful, so well done to the lads for not being bullied into defeat, and well done to Ryan Harley, if I had to single anyone out, for providing that glimmer of hope with some delightful passing all over the Park and an exceptional work rate too.
So where to next? Well no surprises it's away yet again, ridiculously for the fourth Saturday in a row as the lads look to earn themselves a plum third round tie from an uninspiring visit to MK Dons. After that it's yet another away trip, this time to near neighbours Bristol Rovers before finally getting a Saturday at home when Brighton visit in early December.
Hopefully we'll be planning a January trip to the Emirates by then, and be the proud owners of an eight match unbeaten run, but the current six match one is not to be sneezed at. We've worked so hard this season, and after a tricky start it's beginning to bear fruit as we gradually climb towards the middle of the table.
We're on a run, we're doing well and the lads deserve your support more than ever, so with that in mind do your best to get to MK on Saturday and then we'll see you all, plus a friend, back at the Park in a week and a half's time. I can't wait, and I bet you can't either.
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.