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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
13:44 19th September 2010

Exeter City 2 Peterborough United 2

So on a warm and cloudy afternoon at the Park City end up sharing the spoils 2-2 for the third time in four outings against a lively Peterborough United side in front of an enthralled 5146 supporters. City lined up: Paul Jones; Billy Jones, Archibald-Henville, Duffy; Golbourne,Dunne, Harley, Sercombe, Tully; Nardiello, O'Flynn.
Posh are well known for full on full flowing attacking football and so far this season have scored an absolute bucket load, but none would have been more bizarre than the one they nearly scored in the fifth minute. A drilled cross came in from the left and found Gabriel Zukuani bursting into the box, however with the ball being too high to kick and too low to head Zukuani could think of nothing else other than to chest the ball in! Even more surprising was that it didn't actually go in, so despite being in the middle of the goal and only a yard or two out it was with a huge collective sigh of relief from both players and supporters that the ball whizzed past the far post by inches and away to safety.
City's response was immediate with Tully charging down the right and firing in a deep cross to the far post. Golbourne was the only one available and the best he could do was hook the ball back across goal where the keeper gathered with ease. The game then deteriorated into a somewhat disjointed effort with passes misplaced from both sides in promising situations, and neither side being helped by overly fussy refereeing continually stopping the game when there was no real need to.
It picked up in the 28th minute though when Dunne grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck robbing a dawdling Posh midfielder and advancing on goal menacingly before setting O'Flynn on his way down the right channel with a peach of a through ball. O'Flynn charged forward letting fly with a vicious effort that the keeper, having worked his angles out, was equal to. Within seconds the ball was back up the other end of the pitch where Troy and Jones got in an awful mess as Troy headed back to Jones as Jones came out to collect with the inevitable result being a Troy own goal to give Posh a fortuitous 1-0 lead.
But City kept their heads and kept their shape and look to respond instantly. Good work from Dunne saw the ball out to Jones who in turn played it into Harley stationed centrally. With his back to goal Harley turned neatly before firing a good looking effort towards the goal from 25 yards out, but the keeper was behind it all the way and had an easy collect.
With ten minutes to go to the break City thought they'd given themselves a lifeline back into the game when Golbourne set off on a storming run down the left before drilling the ball into Nardiello just inside the box. Nards twisted and turned looking for an opening before firing towards the far post only to see the ball deflect down off a Posh arm before being cleared - City were convinced it was a penalty but the ref was having none of it and thus it remained 1-0 to the visitors.
A minute later City had probably their best chance of the half when Tully flashed a cross towards the back post that had the keeper backpedalling furiously to tip over as it looked to drop just under the bar, then a couple of minutes later Jones and Harley combined well down the left to set Golbourne away before again delivering into Nardiello in the box. And again Nardiello twisted and turned looking for an opening only to find his shot blocked at source in the final meaningful action of a difficult half.
At the start of the second half we saw in the first sixty seconds why Posh had rejected seven figure sums for the livewire front duo of Mackail-Smith and McLean as they tore through the heart of the City defence before McLean nearly snapped the crossbar with a thunderous drive from 15 yards out. But City weathered the early storm and came back strongly, and ten minutes into the half were back level. O'Flynn set off on a driving run across the face of the penalty area before threading a clever ball into the path of Nardiello lurking on the penalty spot. He didn't need a second invitation to latch onto the ball, pick his spot and gleefully smash the ball home via the underside of the bar to send three sides of the ground into raptures and make the score one apiece.
At the restart O'Flynn, despite treatment, was withdrawn with a thigh injury collected during the build up to the goal and was replaced by Logan, whose first involvement in the game was to nod the ball down to Nardiello who shot straight at the keeper. Logan had a chance on goal himself a couple of minutes later, but his glancing header from Sercombe's cross drifted just wide of the far post.
Midway through the half Nardiello was withdrawn for Cureton, and five minutes later it proved to be an inspired decision as City took the lead. Whilst half the Peterborough team messed about with water bottles on the far touchline, Jones was allowed to take his goal kick and found Sercombe on the right. He marched on and with the Posh defence all over the place played the ball into Cureton in acres of space with time aplenty to turn and lash home from 12 yards out to make it 2-1 to City.
City were keen for more though, and on the half hour Dunne produced the tackle of the game winning the ball in midfield before flicking the ball onto Logan who in turn flicked the ball on to Cureton. Fortunately for Posh a defender was on hand to clear the danger as Cureton shaped to shoot, then a couple of minutes later it was the keeper's turn to be alert collecting the ball smartly as Logan and Cureton looked to capitalise on Golbourne's whipped in cross.
Then disaster for City as somewhat against the run of play Posh got a second fortuitous goal of the afternoon. Lee Tomlin's good looking run across the box finished with a shot on goal that Jones looked to have covered, but it skimmed a City defender on the way and that was enough to deflect it just past Jones' full length dive and into the bottom corner to make it 2-2.
From then on it was playground football until the final whistle with first City piling forward on the attack and then Peterborough doing the same. But it was City who looked the more likely to get the winner though as first Duffy's great ball down the line was flicked on by Sercombe to Dunne whose cross to Logan was cut out as Logan looked to shoot, then right on the final whistle Jones' corner was met at the far post by Logan and Troy, one of which powered a header into the turf that was hacked off the line. A number of supporters at the Big Bank end of the ground were convinced it had crossed the line but none of the officials were and thus a hugely entertaining half was bought to a close with honours even.
Which, I guess, is fair enough. This was a proper test for City, probably their sternest of the season so far against a team playing Championship football last season and with a forward line that's been scoring for fun all season. But City matched them and gave them a fair old test of their own scoring a couple of decent goals and having a strong shout for a penalty turned down too.
Of the players at the back Jones and Troy will probably be working on communication issues this week, but one misunderstanding apart both had more than decent games, Troy in particular. Which makes Duffy's performance even more noteworthy as he, for me, was head and shoulders above his team mates today with a measured display. In the middle the holy trinity of Sercombe, Dunne and Harley continues to flourish, and when the three are on song it's hard to imagine a midfield without them. A word too for the wide men, Golbourne and Tully, who both bombed up and down relentlessly.
Then we come to the front four. Nardiello's probably had busier games, but he showed his class with a well taken finish that was well set up by the lively O'Flynn who netted a couple himself last week at Hartlepool. Such are the riches City possess in attack these days that both can afford to be rested to let Logan and Cureton take over in their stead with Logan looking menacing in the air and Cureton looking sharp in the box. Good goal too today.
And so we come to a tricky run of three consecutive away trips when we go to Dagenham, Yeovil and Bournemouth before the month's out. But we're a bit more resilient these days on our travels with the capitulation at Orient the only blot so far, so we can go into those games with both confidence and belief. Like today's visitors Peterborough we're a free scoring side this season, so if we can tighten up a bit at the back - even though Posh's two goals today were lucky in the extreme - there's no reason not to believe we can't return to the Park in October for the visit of Rochdale with a tidy haul of points.
So we'll see you back here on the 2nd, and I have to say with the way we're playing at the moment I really can't wait.
    Data provided by Press Association