City manager lauds discipline in chasing the game
City boss Paul Tisdale was very pleased with his players’ ability to stick to the task following Exeter’s 1-1 draw with rivals Torquay at Plainmoor.
Rene Howe converted a penalty to give the Gulls a lead, after Tommy Doherty was penalised for a hand-ball in the box. However Alan Gow won and scored a spot-kick of his own to reward the Grecians with a well-earned point from a lively derby fixture, which had been contested on a boggy surface.
“The players did what they were asked to do, and they played very well,” said Tisdale. “Whether the tactics were right or not, that’s for us to decide. But they did what they were asked to do, and made lots of very good decisions.
“So I’m very pleased that we came from a goal down against a team intent on slowing things down and hanging on, on a glue-pot of a pitch. I’m really pleased how we did.”
An injury to John O’Flynn after merely nine minutes delivered an early blow to the Grecians, and threw the game-plan out of the window. With many of the ball-playing individuals waiting in the wings for City for a second-half introduction, Tisdale’s hand was forced early.
“It was always going to be the case that Matt Oakley, Alan Gow and Jimmy Keohane would come on in the second half,” Tis continued. “I was hoping that they would come on at nil-nil, or with us one up. And I certainly wasn’t planning on using Alan Gow as a lone striker. But you have to adapt as a team.
“Unfortunately we didn’t do particularly great for the 10 or 15 minutes after we made that change, and we didn’t stay close to them – we got a bit disjointed. But you’re not going to go through an entire season or an entire game when the players have perfect synergy with everything they do.”
Going into the break a goal down, the City players were patient in their build-up play despite having to chase the game. After sustaining pressure and playing a remarkable amount of on-the-deck football on a bobbly surface, Tis felt the equalising goal with five minutes to spare was a just reward for their patience with the ball.
“I said to them, ‘don’t chase the game, don’t try and score in the first minute.’ Of course, you’ll score if the opportunity presents itself but I wanted to just get ourselves in the game and sustain pressure and stay in their half and they did that really well.
“They passed it well and the midfield three were excellent at keeping the ball. And I didn’t want Alan Gow running around and chasing the ball. I wanted to get the ball up to him into his feet, but he still looked after the ball amazingly well on this pitch.”
Both Tisdale and Torquay gaffer Martin Ling had a right to feel that they might have taken all three points from the fixture. The Gulls had a right to feel disappointed to have conceded a late equaliser to let victory slip, whereas City might have felt they could have converted a draw into a win after dominating the ball in the second half.
“It’s a very different frustration. Their frustration was that they were hanging on from the first half, and their goalkeeper was taking his time over stuff from the first minute of the second half. But they had a good time that were trying very hard for their manager, and they’ll think they’ve earned something today.”