City manager taking heart from performance at Fratton Park
Despite losing 3-2 away at Portsmouth, City manager Paul Tisdale was far from despondent with the performance that his team put in.
The Grecians had played neatly and progressively in the first half and brought out saves from goalkeeper Trevor Carson – and even hit the bar through Matt Grimes.
The match turned with a freak goal just before the interval, as Ricky Holmes’ cross caught a gust of wind and floated fortuitously into the net. Ryan Bird netted a second and third for Pompey after the break to pave the way for the hosts.
But City fought back through goals by Danny Coles and John O’Flynn and were giving their all for an equaliser. The goals aside, Exeter conducted themselves well throughout the afternoon the Grecians manager had gracious words for the display.
“I can appreciate the type of game and the finish to it, and I appreciate the way we played,” said Tis. “I have mixed feelings – of course we lost, but I really liked us today.
“I liked the way we played and how we built our performance – three goals was a tall order to come back from. I would like to a repeat of that last 15 minutes more often; I know that’s difficult all the time, but we have to harness a bit of that.
“It was a really good game, and I’m smarting a little bit with one or two moments of the game which went against us. But we won’t go far wrong if we keep on playing like this.
“It was an incredibly difficult set of weather conditions. It wasn’t just a straight wind; it seemed to swirl. I don’t know whether that’s the nature of the stadia here and the gaps in the corners. There was an erratic nature to it, which we saw with their goal.”
The game looked like it was drifting away from City with the timing and nature of the goals, but Paul applauded his players for sticking to task right to the end.
“They got lucky with their first goal,” he continued. “I don’t think anybody would romance about him seeing Artur off his line – I think it was pretty clear that it was a cross.
“But those things can happen when you put the ball in the box, but we got unlucky with that with a minute to go in the first half.
“Even at one-nil down at half-time I thought we were in with a shout. We were a little bit slow out of the blocks in the second half, but we feel a little aggrieved with the second goal and the nature in which Jordan Moore-Taylor was manhandled.
“From then on it was a tall order and at three-nil, we kept going and you never know what’s around the corner. Well done to the players that finished the game – they played on real instinct and with real determination.”
The atmosphere was electric inside Fratton Park, with the travelling 1,304 City fans more than holding their end of the bargain. Even at three goals down, the Grecian supporters were making a racket behind the goal.
“Our players worked off the back of the energy in the stadium,” continued Paul. “It’s a wonderful place to play football – our players really enjoyed it. I suppose we have to find a way of playing with that intensity we had at the end of the game when we’re playing in front of a quiet set of supporters at home.
“It was a really good experience for us, and well done to Portsmouth. They have a terrific set-up here and the supporters really support their team, and it was a terrific place to play.”