Right-back pleased at defensive display
After Tuesday evening’s goalless draw in Sky Bet League 2 against Oxford United at St James Park, Exeter City’s Danny Butterfield was feeling positive about his side’s performance, having kept a clean sheet against one of the division’s top sides away from home.
“The lads are disappointed, because obviously we had a great chance to win the game in the final minute,” he said. “I think we continued the performance level we managed on Saturday, and also kept a clean sheet, something we haven’t managed in a while. I think that was the big positive for the team tonight.
“As a team we set out our stall to keep clean sheets in every game, but unfortunately mistakes have been made by individuals which have cost us in games of late. To get that clean sheet tonight though will give us a lot of confidence going into Saturday’s game.
“I think [Oxford United players] James Constable and Deane Smalley are amongst the best attacking players in this league, but our back four were really tight tonight.”
Danny provided the cross which gave club captain Danny Coles a great chance to win the game in front of the Big Bank the dying moments, but U’s keeper Ryan Clarke had other ideas.
“I think Colesy did everything right,” City’s number two said. “He got a good connection on it, their keeper’s made a good save and then we had another chance from the rebound as well. It was a little bit disappointing that it didn’t creep over the line at the end there, but we’ve got to look at the positives, and that was a good clean sheet.
“Coming off the defeats in the last few games, it’s a big positive, and I’m sure the fans could see that the lads were putting everything in tonight in trying to win the game. We certainly looked like the team that wanted to win the game, as opposed to Oxford, who were slowing things down, and sitting back and camping in their own half as opposed to going forward. The effort was there in the performance tonight, and if we can maintain those performance levels, I believe that we will win more games than we lose.”
Matt Grimes made a quicker-than-expected return to manager Paul Tisdale’s plans when he came off the bench against Oxford, having suffered what initially appeared to be a nasty injury at AFC Wimbledon last weekend. Matt Oakley was also on the bench, he too on the way back to fitness.
In addition, two of the key performers for the Grecians were youngsters Tom Nichols and Jimmy Keohane, who looked particularly threatening to the Yellows’ rearguard throughout the whole game.
“It was great to see Grimesy back tonight, and I imagine that Oaks will have been chomping at the bit to get on,” Danny said. “I know they’ll be working hard over the next week or two and pushing for a starting place in no time.
“And I think Jimmy and Tom enjoy playing together – they’ve played a lot of under-21 football together and they’re a handful, because they’re very good at moving defenders about. I don’t think it will be long before those two are finding the net, and it’s a big plus that Jimmy has come on and performed as he has done.
“They’re both lively and quick on their feet; they’re not the typical big centre-forward that you get at this level, and they both like getting in behind defenders.”
It’s a trip to the Pirelli Stadium and Burton Albion next for the Grecians, as Danny said: “Wednesday will be a day off, and then we’ll be back in preparing for the Burton game. That’s another important one for us, and I’m looking forward to it.”