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15:28 3th November 2010

Brighton & Hove Albion 3 Exeter City 0

With the post-match duties over, good friends Paul Tisdale and Gus Poyet had the chance to catch up pitch-side at The Withdean this evening.

The two bosses, former Pro Licence partners, could reflect on 90 minutes that certainly highlighted the peaks and troughs of their trade.

While Poyet's side notched up another comfortable three points and retained their eight point lead at the helm, Paul Tisdale had to content with stomach bugs and the unique challenge of cobbling together 11 fit players an hour before kick off. Where are diarrhoea and vomiting bugs in the manager's handbook?!

Make no mistake about it though, the former Chelsea and Spurs man has crafted a side that are going places. Kazenga LuaLua, in particular, looked a class apart and in all honesty the home side didn't really need to move up the gears in what was a comfortable victory.

But with Matt Taylor and John O'Flynn out, Nardiello not match-fit and a whole string of D&V victims they did come up against a very makeshift City XI. Tisdale is not a fan of excuses but having players being ill on the trip up and trying to select a fit and healthy XI from the wreckage of a bug is as good as any.

I doubt very few of the 197 travelling faithful have ever been as stunned at news of a City line-up. Richard Duffy was passed fit to sit on the bench for emergency use only, Jamie Cureton and Ryan Harley were ruled out completely while Richard Logan was an empty vessel after also suffering.

The selection of Artur Krysiak was a tactical move while James Norwood, Marcus Stewart, David Noble, Bertie Cozic and Rob Edwards replaced the 'under the weather' players.

While the personnel may have been very different the old habits were still present, including conceding from set-pieces. After Krysiak saved well from Elliott Bennett's long-shot City went 1-0 down from the resulting corner when Adam El-Abd headed home at the near post.

Steve Tully's bout of illness came last week, leaving him fit for action this evening, but he will be more than sick of the sight of LuaLua who tormented him down Brighton's left-hand side just as he did when the sides last met at The Withdean.

And the former Newcastle winger had the first of many chances soon after when his weaving run was followed by a shot that deflected wide of Krysiak's goal.

City, despite being a goal down, were slowly getting to grips with a change in formation (effectively a 4-4-2) and the lively Norwood came close to beating Casper Ankergren to James Dunne's chipped ball.

But then the killer blow, And the third penalty conceded by the Grecians in the last four days was easily the most controversial. Troy's slide tackle on Glen Murray just inside the box incensed the travelling supporters behind that goal who, for once this evening, had a great view of the incident.

Murray's touch was heavy and City's number five seemed to have got the slightest touch but there was no doubt about the penalty itself, smashed high into the top corner by former Argyle man Ashley Barnes.

Then came probably Exeter's best chance of the half, Stewart teeing up Norwood with a cute back heel but the youngster, fresh from a loan spell at Forest Green, fired a right-footed effort wide of the far post.

Barnes then headed a corner wide and at the other end no City attacker gambled on the cross that followed Norwood's electric run down the right flank.

Gary Dicker's effort was hacked away from danger by Edwards shortly before the break and when the sides returned Scott Golbourne had entered the fray for the booked Bertie and City reverted to a more familiar set-up.

LuaLua once again wriggled through plenty of white shirts before shooting wide while Norwood had City's most promising foray into the home side's half but his weaving run was cut short before he could get a shot away.

Despite both being far from full fitness the introduction of Nardiello and Logan, for Stewart and the hard-work Norwood, did seem to make a difference with City retaining showing better posession retenttion in the final third.

But the Grecians' next half-chance fell to an unlikely source in Troy as he headed Billy Jones' corner just wide.

Star man LuaLua turned provider again shortly after, but Barnes shot wide and then a passage of play down the wing ended with Murray also failing to test Krysiak.

The match was well and truly put to bed on 77 minutes when Bennett's cross found Barnes and he fired into the far corner. There were still a few half-chances for City, a lovely chip from Nardiello was an inch over the bar while his strike-partner Logan collected a loose ball and sent a low shot wide.

Troy's bout of cramp saw him limp off and leave City a man light while Krysiak was called into action twice late with two smart saves.

Barnes then missed a glorious chance to seal his hat-trick in stoppage time.

At the final whistle the players and management made an obvious effort to walk over and thank the travelling fans who had made the long journey, a nice touch.

This was always going to be a tough match especially given the limited resources and lets hope come Saturday evening the only runs we are talking about are FA Cup ones!

But joking aside those City players who were available for selection let no-one down. James Dunne was once again a bundle of energy, Norwood will be delighted to be back in a City shirt again and Krysiak put in a solid display on his League One debut.

And fingers crossed the squad members unaffected by the bug can stay out of its way before the jaunt to Bury on the weekend.

Pete Evans

    Data provided by Press Association