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10:12 10th April 2012

Exeter City 3 Leyton Orient 0

So on a typically dour Bank Holiday Monday, the football was anything but as City stormed to their best result and arguably best performance of the season beating Leyton Orient 3-0 in front of a bewildered 4142 supporters. City lined up: Krysiak; Jones, Archibald-Henville, Baldwin, Tully; Nardiello, Dunne, Noble, Sercombe; Gow, Taylor.

City could have been relegated today, but the way the players stormed out of the blocks you could see they were determined not to let that happen. Indeed, after dominating the opening exchanges it was no surprise they took the lead as early as the third minute. Dunne mugged a defender for the ball before playing it forward to Nardiello.

Spotting the run of Taylor, Nards played a delicious defence splitter to send Taylor scurrying into the area where his first time shot from 15 yards was deflected out wide to the right. Gow collected and bustled his way into the area playing the ball to the corner of the six yard box where Taylor poked the ball across the goal and home via the far post to deservedly put City 1-0 up.

For the next 27 minutes it was something of a midfield contest with everything good coming from the sublime skills of Noble and Gow combined with the relentless energy of Sercombe and Dunne. Such a combination, together with the excellent Jones, worked the ball down the left channel before Taylor again was sent racing into the box, however giant defender Syam Ben Youssef was alert to the danger blocking Taylor's shot at source.

A minute later Ben Youssef was in action at the other end, powerfully butting a far post corner just under the cross bar where Troy was on hand to head clear via the bar and out to Gow on the edge of the box. He raced the full length of the field before laying the ball off to the right to Taylor who smashed a first time shot across the goal where it cannoned off the far post before being hacked away to safety.

With ten minutes to go to the break, City thought they'd taken the lead when Gow latched on to Noble's through ball and confidently slid the ball under the advancing keeper from 15 yards, however the linesman had long since (correctly) had his flag raised for offside against both him and Taylor. Noble's 41st minute free kick sailed harmlessly over the bar, then a minute Jones let fly with a thunderous 30 yard daisycutter worked back from a corner that knocked the blocking defender clean off his feet in the last meaningful move of decent first half.

The second started pretty much the same as the first with City in command and on the attack with once again Nardiello setting up Taylor, but this time from much further out with Taylor scampering half the length of the field before being sent sprawling by a chasing defender just inside the box. Despite huge appeals for a penalty the ref was having none of it as presumably the defender must have got a bit of ball first. Orient then earned themselves a free kick on the edge of the City box after a clumsy foul by Troy, but Krysiak's blushes for a poor throw out that caused Troy's foul were spared as the free kick was whacked wastefully straight at the wall then over the bar from the rebound.

In the 13th minute Gow's searing swerving, dipping shot from 20 yards out was acrobatically tipped over for a corner after good spadework from Dunne to win the ball, and from the resulting corner City doubled their lead. It was something of a scramble in the O's box before the ball eventually found its way out to Sercombe on the corner of the box. Without hesitation Sercombe smashed the ball back in low where it flew through a crowd of players into the far corner to put City firmly in the driving seat and 2-0 up.

Five minutes later the result was sealed with the move of the match - and possibly season - and inevitably it began with Gow. Collecting the ball out wide on the left he skipped breathlessly past desparing challenges dancing his way towards the edge of the box before squaring to Dunne on the edge of the D. With defenders closing Dunne spotted the run of Sercombe to his right and laid off a perfectly weighted ball for Sercombe to smash home a pulverising 18 yard drive that gave the keeper no chance and made it 3-0 to City and game over.

In the 20th minute Bauza joined the fray at Taylor's expense and very nearly made it four with his first touch of the game. Tully's tapped free kick to Noble saw him produce an equally twinkle toed run to match that of Gow's before lifting the ball towards the penalty spot from the corner of the box where Bauza was rushing in. As Bauza looked to connect, the keeper somehow stretched out an arm to deflect the ball away. Gow then saw his long range piledriver deflected up and onto the roof of the net for a corner before making way, along with Nardiello, for youngsters McNish and Nichols to have a fifteen minute run out.

Orient were given a chance for a consolation in the 38th minute when a free kick was awarded for Baldwin's foul on the edge of the D, but like the previous effort it was straight at the wall and away. City then went up the other end with Noble sending the lively Nichols racing where his clever back heel to Dunne saw him scoop the ball over from 25 yards before the ref soon put the visitors out of their misery to end a pulsating second half.

Back up at the start I said the crowd were bewildered by the result and performance - where had they been keeping that hidden all season? We always knew the squad was capable of such a performance, but you so can't help wishing we'd seen it a couple of weeks ago. Had we played in such a fashion more regularly surely our League One status would have been comfortably secured by now. Having said all that, and despite us hanging on by our finger tips, we still are a League One club and we still have it within us to produce one of the greatest escapes seen at the Park.

With Troy and Baldwin in such command at the back, and Dunne and Sercombe at their effervescent best in the middle along with the skill and guile of Gow and Noble, it's a strong spine and one that will need to remain so in the final weeks of the season. Eight points is a mighty tall order to overcome, but if we can reproduce today's performance for the remaining four games then there's still a chance, starting with the visit to bottom club Rochdale next weekend before returning to the Park to face fellow strugglers Walsall the weekend after.

She ain't singing yet - let's see how long we can keep her quiet for, eh?

    Data provided by Press Association