City boss gives verdict on victory over the Bantams
Following Exeter City’s 4-1 triumph at St James Park against Bradford City, the Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale was pleased with both the performance of the team and the result which came as a consequence of such composed play.
The Grecians went into the break 2-0 up, and despite having the lead halved in the second period, they reacted well to the setback to eventually run out 4-1 winners. The team battled in some extremely trying conditions – including a pre-match hailstorm – and with the end of the season closing in, it represented an important victory in the context of a continued promotion push.
“It was a very much needed three points,” said Tis. “It was a comprehensive scoreline in the end against a very good team, and a host of extremely good individual performances – and most of all an excellent team performance.
“It was a gusty, wet, slippery day and we played the conditions very sensibly and did the job.”
The scoreline suggests a comprehensive victory, but the Bantams certainly played their part in the fixture and had plenty of intent about the way they approached the fixture. Trailing at the interval, Zavon Hines and Kyel Reid were introduced to great effect and needed another resolute performance throughout the entire spine of the team.
Paul continued: “The midfield with Scot Bennett and Mark Molesley – who haven’t played together very often – were very competitive and very tough. They were aided by the quick thinking of Lawson D’Ath making his debut and Jake Gosling and Arron Davies all being very bright to the ball and quick to the breakdown.
“We played with the breeze in the first half and played forward very early and got behind it, and in the second half we had to defend our last third under some stiff pressure from Bradford, but counter-attacked very well.
“It was always likely they were going to make a change at half-time. It’s a stock decision – two-nil down away from home, ‘let’s do something different’. And they did – they went to a 4-4-2 with the wide players, and with the breeze they camped on us and then went to a 3-5-2 and really gave it a go. It’s ironic that we should win 4-1 against a side that I think were very effective and attacked with a lot of purpose.”
The result was built on another solid defensive performance by the entire back-four and goalkeeper, and Paul is hopeful that they can continue the same kind of stubbornness as the season draws towards an end and final standings become solidified.
“The back four has been very settled recently, and of course with Artur behind them is playing extremely well at the moment. Pat Baldwin and Danny Coles have played together all year and are in very good form since the turn of the year, since when our clean sheets are almost in double figures now.
“Those two have been particularly good, but they’re going to have to be so for the next six weeks. That’s what’s necessary for those two, and hopefully they can continue as they are currently.”
Tis also reserved praise for debutant Lawson D’Ath, whose far-post header just before the break gave the Grecians a two-goal cushion. The youngster was named Man of the Match at the end of the game.
Similarly, the wet conditions suited the workmanlike performance of John O’Flynn, who worked the channels and pressured the defence to maximum effect. He turned in a Mark Molesley cross in the 89th-minute, getting the goal his performance merited.
“[Lawson] played in front of the midfield, but he supported John O’Flynn and he’s a quick thinker. In that position you need to be the brightest player on the pitch – the brightest player to react and see things, and he did that today. He did extremely well today and it’s nice to score a debut goal.
“It was a day for John, and for him to get a goal in the last minute was fabulous – you could see how much work he’d put in.”
Looking onward to the final seven games, Tis is calling on the side to display the kind of composure and discipline that could see them amongst the promoted sides come the summer. Having lost a number of key players to injury, it has meant a forced change of tack and he is pleased with the way the side are dealing with the obstacles they are facing.
“It’s a cliché, but it’s one game at a time. We need to make sensible decisions, don’t try to chase the games and win the games too early, but let the games come onto you.
“There’ll be a team that wins five or six of those seven and there’ll be other teams that lose five or six. We need to be in a position where we can put a run of wins together and that means being sensible.
“We have had a real issue with injuries in out midfield and losing our creative players like Matt Oakley, Alan Gow, Liam Sercombe and Tommy Doherty – but every team will have problems like injuries, suspensions, a loss of confidence or something – and injuries just happens to be our thing at the moment and we have to cope with it.
“Every team will be going through something and it’s how you deal with those challenges. And at the moment, we’re dealing with that challenge we have in midfield.”