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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
20:20 12th February 2012

Exeter City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

A pair of stunning second half free kicks emphatically ended Exeter City's seven hour goalless run and secured a shock victory over second placed Sheffield Wednesday. Only a number of fine blocks from the Wednesday defence kept the Grecians at bay during the final minutes of the first half but the away side opened the scoring on 65 minutes thanks to a thumping finish from Jermaine Johnson. It took just three minutes for City to draw level though, Billy Jones stepping up to curl a perfect left-footed free-kick around the wall and past Stephen Bywater. And when Nardiello was fouled on the right hand side of the pitch 25 yards out with eight minutes to go it was David Noble's turn to bend home a stunning dipping effort off the inside of the post to secure three much needed points. Paul Tisdale shuffled his pack in the aftermath of the 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth with Guillem Bauza and Jake Taylor coming in for Richards Duffy and Logan. It meant City started with the trio of Bauza, Taylor and Dan Nardiello upfront and went back to a four man defence. It was well publicised that the Grecians hadn't scored since the dying minutes at Chesterfield on 7th January but they had the ball in the back of the net after just seven minutes. Nardiello was adjusted to be offside when Taylor slipped him in down the left-hand side and he curled a low shot into the bottom corner infront of the Big Bank only to see the linesman's flag raised. A minute later Gary Madine's lovely touch sent the ball into the path of Jose Semedo who blazed over the packed away end. Jermaine Johnson was Wednesday's main danger all afternoon and only a superb piece of defending from Danny Coles on 13 minutes stopped the winger's lightning quick run from the half-way line. The resulting corner was taken short and from Spurs loanee John Bostock's cross Miguel Llera rose to send a bullet header towards the top corner which was kept out by the diving figure of Artur Krysiak. As the match passed the half-hour mark City began to have a string of chances only to be denied by a blue and white wall. On 33 minutes a great move involving Bauza ended with an air-kick from Scot Bennett which meant the ball rolled into the path of Nardiello who had two shots superbly blocked by Wednesday defenders. On 41 minutes a Jones free-kick from the right-hand side caused havoc inside the box with the ball pinging around before being hammered to safety. It was the same story two minutes later with Taylor and Bauza both hitting bodies with their efforts, the duo just couldn't get a snapshots away as City enjoyed a great spell of pressure. The half time interval came at the worst possible time for Tisdale and his team and when the match restarted the tempo had certainly died down. With the exception of Danny Batths' header which went over the bar, there was little to talk about in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. The last player to have scored a goal for the Grecians was then introduced on 64 minutes with Liam Sercombe coming on for Bauza. Just seconds later though, the away side went infront in style. A long throw was headed out of the box and to the feet of Johnson who rocketed a volley into the bottom corner with Krysiak just a spectator. Despite falling behind yet again the Grecian heads didn't go down and they responded in the perfect manner. When Nardiello was fouled on the right hand side of the Wednesday box Jones' lovely free-kick was bent around the wall and nestled beyond the grasp of Bywater. The Park erupted as the supporters celebrated the end of the four and a half game goalless run. Krysiak then had to be at his best to deny half-time substitute Chris Lines and at the other end Nardiello had two sights of goal but both effortts were comfortable for Bywater. Wednesday upped the ante as they looked to increase the pressure on League One leaders Charlton but Troy, Coles and Bennett in particular were doing a fantastic job at keeping the away side's attack quiet. They were excellent at coping with the threat in the air and on the deck. That rearguard action would prove even more vital when the Grecians took the lead on 82 minutes. Nardiello was fouled yet again, a little further back than he had been for the first goal. And despite calls for Jones to try his luck again it was the right boot of Noble that curled an effort from right to left across goal. It dipped dramatically and smashed off the inside of the post and nestled in the far corner. There was still time for the League One promotion hopefuls to carve out one more big chance but when Lines slid in O'Grady only to see Krysiak save superbly at his near post. And from the resulting corner he leapt highest to claim the ball under pressure from plenty of Wednesday bodies, including keeper Bywater. Notts County await at Meadow Lane on Tuesday and the Grecians can go there on a real high after a hugely enjoyable victory at The Park.
    Data provided by Press Association