Grecians manager gives verdict after defeat at the Park
After Exeter City’s last-gasp defeat to Rochdale at St James Park on Easter Monday, Grecians boss Paul Tisdale reaffirmed his faith in the players he has at his disposal to continue the promotion push and called on supporters to do the same.
Despite a disjointed performance, it looked as though City might just sneak a victory as the clock ticked into the final five minutes with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Jamie Cureton – but a cruelly deflected Ian Henderson strike and a last-gasp winner by Bobby Grant turned the game upside down. Tis was under no illusions that the performance was under-par and made no attempt to argue to the contrary.
“It’s terribly disappointing, because it happens so late in the game,” said Tis. “With five minutes to go we’re 1-0 up, and considering how poor we were today, you hope you can hang on and win one of those games when you don’t have a great performance. To be at that point and then to lose a goal and an injury-time winner is very disappointing.
“We lost the game and we’re still in the play-off zone and we’ve still got games to go, so I can spin positives for it – but it feels very disappointing because of how poor we were as a team today. I’ve not seen one of my teams play so poorly for a long, long time. We struggled to put the passes together and play any meaningful forward play at all, so it’s disappointing.
“We have a handful of players that were comfortable in the jobs they were doing today. But we had no real fluidity to our play, and we were fractured and there was no real cohesion – it needs experience to tidy the play and pull things together and we just didn’t do that. The game was very scrappy.”
While there were few positives to take from the performance or result, Tis gave his backing to the players going forward for the remaining five games of the season. City have lost Liam Sercombe, Matt Oakley and Alan Gow to long-term injuries and Tommy Doherty also had to sit out with a recurrence of his back troubles – and with such influential creative players missing, the challenge is always going to be heightened.
So rather than looking over his shoulder at what has transpired over the Easter weekend, Tis is already looking ahead to the remaining five fixtures and putting faith in his players to help achieve their promotion ambitions.
“I’m asking a lot of certain players – I have to back them, we have to back each other,” Tis continued. “We’re in a good position, and now it’s about the next game and it’s about what’s possible. And things are possible, so we have to back each other.
“I back the players. We didn’t play well, but our team has been decimated with injuries to our talented midfield players and you can’t continue to play the same way without those four talented players on the pitch.
“The heart of the team and all the talent has been ripped out the middle of it, and I’m backing the players we’ve got on the pitch to get us over the line. I’m with these players – they’re going to give everything, I’m going to give everything I can. It was a very poor performance today, but with players trying their hardest.”
A handful of fans chose to air their opinions in a negative fashion at the game following a disappointing result, but Paul was buoyed by the replies of the majority that chose to be supportive of the players’ endeavours. Win or lose, Paul is hopeful that the City fans will continue to set themselves apart by being the Grecians’ 12th man for the remainder of the season.
“What delighted me was that in response to a few ignorant comments there were dozens more coming back saying they support the players. Well that’s fantastic because that makes you more than an average club then, because you’re backing the players. They’re doing their very, very best.
“So it’s a very disappointing day, but you have to draw a line under it and look at what’s possible. Looking at the position we’re in, in the play-off zone, it’s not a bad position to be in going into the last five games of the season.
“As much as we’re disappointed today, the players are going to have to do everything they can to get us over the line.”