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22:53 26th October 2011

Walsall 1 Exeter City 2

Daniel Nardiello grabbed a double for the second time in four days as Exeter City won on the road at the seventh time of asking. The Grecians hadn't even scored in their six previous away matches but they wasted no time in smashing that unwanted record, Nardiello smashing the ball past Jimmy Walker after eight minutes. But just four minutes later Alex Nicholls fired a right footed effort into the bottom corner from an angle to draw the home side level. Nardiello was a menace throughout and he grabbed what proved to be the winner with just 12 minutes remaining, latching on to Troy's long ball he cut inside and although Walker got a touch he couldn't stop the ball trickling over the line to spark raucous celebrations amongst the travelling faithful. Only two of the City starting XI were born when the Grecians last won at Walsall (21st October 1980) and that line-up saw just one change from Saturday's morale boosting victory over Rochdale, Liam Sercombe coming in for Guillem Bauza. Jake Taylor, who today saw his loan from Reading extended, lined up as the lone striker flanked by Nardiello and Sercombe with Noble pushing on behind him. Walsall attacker Nicholls had the first real chance of the match after a corner fell his way but his shot was straight at Saturday's man of the match Krysiak. At away games up and down the country so far this season we've heard the supporters airing the terrace favourite 'We'll Score Again' and after six long games we finally did score again. It may not have been 'some sunny day' but Nardiello's fantastic finish certainly light up the far side of the stand where the 418 Grecians were housed. Noble sent a low pass from the centre of the pitch out to Nardiello on the left wing and City's top scorer weaved in and out as right-back Darryl Westlake backed off. Seeing the opportunity open up for him Nardiello tried his luck with a left-footed drive that found the top corner much to the delight of the jubilant supporters. But with almost the next attack of the match Walsall drew level. Krysiak's goal kick was headed back towards the box by Hurst and Nicholls, who managed to move goal-side of Golbourne in the left-back position, was able to race down the right hand side before firing across goal and into the far corner. That set-back didn't seem to shake the Grecians' attacking intent and they created a pair of promising chances shortly after. First Sercombe headed Matt Oakley's corner over the bar at the near post before Noble controlled the ball inside the box and fired over the bar after playing a smart one-two with Golbourne. The lively start to the match continued on 18 minutes when Hurst's deep right footed corner was met by the diving figure of centre back Manny Smith but he couldn't get his header on target. Five minutes later the dangerous Hurst came agonisingly close to giving Walsall the lead. First their number 11 thundered a right footed shot that crashed off the inside of the post and back into play and just seconds later he cut inside and curled a magnificent effort towards the top corner that was kept out by a stunning stop from Krysiak. The downpour that followed seemed to drown out what was a frantic end-to-end half and the only real chances before the interval fell to Nardiello, who wriggled inside his marker and shot at Walker, and to Liam Sercombe who hit a first time shot just wide after Nardiello found him with a lovely through ball and two minutes later he headed Golbourne's cross over the bar. An extremely sharp Nardiello was a thorn in Walsall's side all evening and was arguably the best player on the pitch this evening. The home side showed little interest in doubling up on the former Blackpool man and it was a case of teeing up our top goalscorer whenever possible. Once again he was found down the left-hand side minutes into the second half and he was allowed to cut inside once more but his low shot was straight at the 38-year-old former West Ham keeper. City's next opportunity fell to Noble but his right footed free kick couldn't test Walker. At the other end Jon Macken tried his luck with a stunning curling shot which crashed off the angle of the post and crossbar infront of the home support. You sensed if City were going to grab a second it would come via the on-form Nardiello and after being fed by Oakley he did manage to beat Walker with a low drive on 73 minutes that was hacked off the line and to safety. We then saw the reverse of Saturday's half time change with Sercombe being withdrawn for Bauza. And the Grecians certainly weren't holding out for a point as they pushed for the winner, Dunne teeing up Taylor for a header that went just wide before the former Arsenal man crossed from the opposite flank for Nardiello whose half volley was deflected for a corner. That spell of Grecian pressure seemed to galvanize the sensational away support and their siege mentality. Loud and proud, the siege chants just got louder and louder as the half drew on, who knows what the home fans thought of it all! The 400 really sounded like 4000 and  they received special praise from Paul Tisdale and his team after the match. "Unbelievable," was the manager's reaction post-match and he was right. The players seemed visibly lifted by the crackling atmosphere emanating from the away fans and they were soon celebrating with their loyal band of supporters on 78 minutes when Nardiello grabbed his second. Troy sent the ball over the top to Nardiello on the left-flank and cutting inside he sent a shot towards goal that eventually found a way into the back of the net via Walker's paw. The euphoric boys in white raced across the pitch to the Siege Mentality Army and seemed to enjoy every second of the memorable celebrations that followed just our second away goal of the season. The only negative for the Grecians was the sight of Bauza stretching out his hamstring minutes later. Tisdale said that after being withdrawn on Saturday as a precaution the Spaniard had trained yesterday with no repercussions but the coaching staff will have been frustrated to see Bauza limp off to be replaced by O'Flynn after just 11 minutes on the pitch. The Irishman joined the 10 other bodies working their socks off to secure the three points. There were some vital blocks and tackles and a real let off in the dying seconds when Westlake's right-footed cross was headed wide by substitute Will Gregg. But the final whistle followed shortly after and the delighted players, management and fans could reflect on three fantastic points and can plan for Sheffield United on Saturday with a real spring in their steps.
    Data provided by Press Association