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16:26 3th October 2010

Exeter City 1 Rochdale 0

So on a warm and cloudy afternoon at the Park City bounce back from Tuesday's disappointing game at Bournemouth with a good 1-0 win over visitors Rochdale in front of a creditable 5363 supporters. City lined up: Paul Jones; Billy Jones, Archibald-Henville, Duffy; Golbourne, Dunne, Harley, Sercombe, Tully; Cureton, Logan.
It was City who started the brightest with the Big Bank roar behind them, and in the opening five minutes looked the most likely to score when Cureton worked the ball across the box from the right to Harley who'd advanced forward. He twisted and turned looking for an opening, but when one eventually came his low shot was deflected for a corner.
With little to cheer the crowd noise fell to funereal levels as all either side had to offer was plenty of huff and puff, plenty of pretty stuff in the middle and nothing whatsoever for either defence or keeper to deal with. Eventually we were woken from our slumbers on the half hour when Logan intercepted the ball and played a delightful ball through into the box for Cureton, but the defender worked him wide to too tight an angle and Cureton's shot was easily dealt with. A minute later Duffy won the ball and played a wicked curling ball around the defence to make Cureton interested, but as he looked to shoot it was pinched off his toe for a corner.
City continued to enjoy the upper hand towards the closing stages as Harley looked to capitalise on a defender's mistake robbing him of the ball and racing towards goal. Unfortunately with defenders closing in he was forced to shoot early and his daisycutter from distance was easy for the keeper.
Next up it was Golbourne's turn to try and take advantage of lacklustre defending stealing the ball before setting Cureton scampering. He in turn fed the overlapping Harley but for once his touch in the box was too heavy and the ball rolled harmlessly behind for a goal kick. In the final minute of the half City had one last chance to break the deadlock but as Harley crossed a good looking ball into the box a defender got the better of Logie - just - to glance a header behind for a corner.
Thankfully the action in the second half was both immediate and more sustained with Harley setting off on a mesmeric 60 yard run before seeing shot blocked for a corner. Five minutes later Troy decided on a rare foray up the pitch striding down the right before playing the ball into Harley. Troy continued his run and Harley played the ball back for Troy to deliver the most sumptuous driven cross that Cureton stooped to glance a perfect header into the far corner from about 8 yards out to make it 1-0 to City.
With Dale's defence all over the place Harley and Dunne looked to profit but Dunne's shot from inside the box was deflected away for yet another City corner, and then Dale finally had a shot in anger when Troy was turned a little too easily on the half way line before Jones made a comfortable save from a fierce drive at his near post.
After a foul on Cureton near to the corner of the box in the 19th minute, Jones whipped in a pearler of a cross towards the far post that Troy bullet headed over the bar from seemingly only inches out, then a couple of minutes later Rochdale had a free kick of their own 25 yards out that Gary Jones whistled past Paul Jones' far post.
With the half hour approaching good work from Harley, Sercombe and Cureton set up Logan to drive from distance, but his powerful shot was always rising eventually ending up a good way back on the Big Bank. City continued to press, and in particular down the left with Harley and Golbourne exchanging passes before Harley's low shot was hacked clear.
Logan then sent Tully scampering down the right before Tully whipped in a beauty that was half an inch too far for the lurking Cureton at the far post, then in the 40th minute Logan and Harley combined for Harley to once again twist and turn inside the box looking for an opening. Again it eventually came, and again his good looking drive was blocked.
With two minutes to go Cureton made way for Stewart and in the final minute of injury time Dunne nearly broke the cross bar with a fearsome drive from 30 yards that the keeper finger tipped onto the bar.
And it was kind of fitting that Dunne was involved in the final action of the game, as he had pretty much been in involved in every piece of action during the game. His energy levels were ridiculous, and it was a close run thing for me between him and Troy for the man of the match award. The sponsors gave it to Golbourne - no bad shout, he got through an awful lot of work down that left hand side - but for me it'd go to Troy. Simply imperious at the back, and outrageous going forward and crossing for Cureton's goal, he, and the rest of the defence, deserve the accolades against an on fire Rochdale side for keeping a clean sheet for only the second time this season.
As for the rest of the players I doubt Paul Jones will have an easier afternoon this season, and that has to be down to not only Troy but the tireless efficiency of Duffy and the ever improving Billy Jones. Coupled with the running of Golbourne and Tully on the flanks it was a strong back line today. It was a strong midfield too, with both Dunne and Sercombe getting through an awful lot of miles and Harley strutting his stuff with just the right amount of arrogance and confidence. Then finally we come to the front two. It's an interesting pairing of Logan and Cureton, and it seems to be working well. Logan has both the skill and strength to win the ball both in the air and on the floor, and Cureton has the knack of just finding enough room to keep the opposition defence busy. Good goal today from him too.
So what's next then? Well, a bit more of the same will do - tigerish work in the middle, clean sheet at the back and clever play up front - for a series of tricky games coming up this month. On Tuesday we travel to Hereford for a JPT tie before travelling to Walsall next weekend.
We entertain one time division leaders Carlisle in a fortnight then visit Milton Keynes before we entertain Brentford in the final game this month. All are winnable, especially if we play as we can and have done this season, but then again all are losable too. But I'm sure Tis and his backroom staff will be working hard to ensure today's good work and good comeback after Tuesday isn't undone, and I'm sure the boys themselves will be keen to use today's result as a platform to cement a solid position in the division.
It's an exciting month ahead, let's hope it's a profitable one too.
To listen to Joe Hellier's match report click here.
    Data provided by Press Association