City boss gives reaction to Robins draw
Exeter City earned their first ever point at the tenth attempt against Cheltenham Town on Saturday, as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at St James Park.
Jordan Moore-Taylor got on the end of a deep, deflected delivery by Craig Woodman to open the scoring but the scores were tied up by Byron Harrison, as the striker netted a smart and opportunistic finish in the first half.
Either team had spells on top and both had chances to extend the scoreline one way or the other, but no further chances were converted. On the whole, a draw felt like a fair result from an evenly-contested match, and in the context of the tight league table, secured an important point towards City’s tally.
City manager Paul Tisdale was on the whole pleased with the application, effort and quality that his Exeter side were able to demonstrate.
“We started really well and I couldn’t have asked for much more of the players during that first quarter – they really took the game to Cheltenham and played with a lot of forward pressure,” said the City manager.
“I’m disappointed that Cheltenham got the equaliser; they had very little to show for their first 20 minutes and they bundled one in with a scrappy goal. I’m not sure whether it was soft on our behalf or fortuitous on their behalf.
“It ebbed and flowed – they missed some chances in the second half, and so did we. I’m pretty pleased with the way we played. It’s an anxious time, it’s nerve-wracking for us all, and there’s a lot at stake on every pass, tackle and decision you make.
“All things considered, I think the players applied themselves really well and I have little to complain about, other than some decisions they made and some mistakes they inevitably will make. On the whole I’m pretty happy with them.”
City’s good work might have counted for nothing if Sam Deering had taken a golden opportunity that he was presented with in the final minute of stoppage-time.
Goalkeeper Christy Pym, who started ahead of Artur Krysiak, bowled a ball out to Matt Grimes – but something of a mix-up between the midfielder and defensive team-mate Jordan Moore-Taylor allowed Harrison to dart onto the ball in the box.
The goalscorer fed Cheltenham sub Sam Deering, but Pym rescued the situation pulling off a fine stop and holding onto the ball to ensure the Grecians kept a point from the game.
The three players involved were all from the batch of no less than six Cat & Fiddle graduates – and while a touch of naivety crept in during the final minute, Paul was pleased that his side didn’t end up paying the ultimate price for it.
“It was a culmination of three very young players – an 18-year-old with the ball in his hand, and 18-year old receiving the ball on the edge of the box and a 19-year-old supporting him,” continued Tis.
“It probably wasn’t the time and the place to do that – I can’t really repeat what I said in the technical area!
“But Christy did really well today. He looked composed and started the game looking really assured, and I’m pleased for him that it didn’t finish in a goal at the end – he did really well.
“We had a full squad of players fully supporting the team and supporters –on the pitch, on and off the bench, and there will be a lot of players needing to be ready and that will have to contribute before the end of the season.”
As well as having Pym in goal, one big notable change was the usage of Scot Bennett as a makeshift centre-forward.
The versatile and ever-willing Bennett put in an industrious shift in leading the line and Tis was pleased with how he executed his job-role.
“If I had three Scot Bennetts, they would probably all play in the team,” continued Paul. “Sometimes it’s a bit like a leaking roof and he’s the bucket. You move him around to see where you can get the best out of him for the team.
“He kept the ball around their back four really well, and that was the purpose. He’s not a well-crafted striker because he hasn’t played a lot of football there, but he keeps the ball around their area.
“I thought we needed to turn bad balls into good balls and keep pressure on their back four, and he did that really well and gave the midfield a chance to get closer.”
Northampton Town continued their fight against relegation with a home win against Burton Albion, whilst Bristol Rovers and Wycombe remained below Exeter with losses to Torquay and Newport respectively.
It means that there is less clarity than ever of the teams that will be facing the drop this summer, so Paul is keen that his team should just keep plugging away throughout their remaining four games.
“Every week is going to be the same conversation,” he said. “Two or three win, two or three lose, a couple draw – we just have to keep soldiering on an be competitive in every game.
“We’ve got to knuckle down and finish off the season with some points. We got a point today and that’s a step towards what we need.
“I didn’t think we put enough pressure on Accrington and I thought we were dull against Bury last week, but over the last six or seven games on the whole we have been competitive.
“I have to believe that playing well and being competitive will get us what we need. We have to keep our nerve.
“I can make points to the players after the game about what they might have done differently, but on the whole they are committing to playing for the team, their teammates, for me and the club and they are doing really well.”