Grecians and Guerreiros play out goalless draw at LaranjeirasThe Grecians and the Guerreiros played out an entertaining but goalless draw at the Estádio das Laranjeiras.
The historic match, to celebrate the formation of the Brazilian national team on the eve of its centenary, kicked off at Laranjeiras in beautiful Brazilian sunshine – but to the chorus of ‘We Are Exeter’.
Over 150 travelling Grecians had made the longest away trip to watch City take on the Fluminense XI, featuring players in the first team squad of the top-tier side with promising youngsters.
Once the official protocol was over, Fluminense started the game with over a minute of possession but at least that gave the City side the chance to find their legs. The Brazilians’ patient passing and then sudden bursts was in evidence in those early stages but ironically City had the first chance when Tom Nichols set up Jimmy Keohane for a shot that was blocked.
City defended neatly without the ball against the Fluminense and then Keohane had another opportunity when a cross from Liam Sercombe found him in the box. No defender was able to block but the ball went wide of the near post.
Fluminense had been having the majority of the ball with a handful of crosses and shots which did not trouble Christy Pym in goal, but it was City again who created another chance on 24 minutes when Liam Sercombe and Keohane linked up once again for the latter to tuck in from an offside position.
David Wheeler had been performing well as, effectively, the right wing back, giving Ailton a tough time, a bit too tough in one instance when the left back stayed down after a challenge, echoes of the strong tactics of the English 100 years ago perhaps? Then Marlon bravely blocked a Jimmy Keohane run and felt the effects but any clash was purely coincidental.
City were certainly warming to the task and blotting out Fluminense, who were restricted to shots from distance from number 10, Gustavo Scarpa, the final one of the half from a short corner which curled delightfully over Pym only to find Wheeler in an excellent position to make a goal line headed clearance from under the bar.
Half time was reached at 0-0 with the feeling that City have grown into the game and benefitted from having the more experienced.
The second half opened with a bit more freedom from both sides but the Grecians created several quick opportunities. Tom Nichols pounced on a through ball to net but, for a second time, the offside flag had been raised. This one was very close! Then Sercombe suffered from a bobble as he was in the act of shooting which lifted his effort over the bar, and Nichols found himself in the area on the left and his fierce right-footed shot was beaten away by the keeper for a corner. Promising stuff though.
Substitutions then started, totally understandable in the heat, which disrupted play initially whilst the players adapted. Edson and Gustavo Scarpa were behind much of Fluminense’s good work, combining at free kicks won around the area but the end product wasn't there, shots drifting wide or being blocked or mopped up by Pym.
As the changes continued City moved to a 4-4-2 style which again settled and coped with any Fluminense threat. The final change saw a certain Paul Tisdale take the field, as he did at Sheffield Wednesday back in 2011, but sadly there was no Troy-like run from anyone down the length of the pitch to score. Instead, Matt Jay tried to do it from a closer position and looked to have sprung the offside trap only for the assistant to deny City again. Again, very close.
Pat Baldwin provided the final notable action, robbing Yuri in the penalty box amid penalty claims. The referee wasn’t interested and rightly so.
Before the game, it had been agreed that City would pick up the trophy on offer if there was a draw and Scot Bennett had the honour of receiving it and dealing with a traditional Brazilian press scrum, very different to post match at SJP!
So there is a trophy to come back to England after a very satisfying and competent performance at Laranjeiras and a fittingly competitive match to celebrate the centenary of Brazilian football.
Full-time: Fluminense XI 0 Exeter City 0
Exeter City: Pym; Wheeler (Watkins 75), Bennett (Dawson 75), Baldwin, Moore-Taylor (Tillson 75), Woodman (Jay 75); Sercombe (Coles 62), Oakley (Davies 58), Grimes (Butterfield 58); Keohane; Nichols (Tisdale 80).
Fluminense XI: Felipe Garcia (Marcos Felipe); Pablo Dyego, Wellington Carvalho, Marlon e Ailton (Léo); Fábio Braga, Edson, Olivera (Yuri) e Gustavo Scarpa; Gerson (Wellington) e Gabriel Silva (Luiz Fernando).