Grecians end Brazil tour with another winExeter City’s 2014 tour of Brazil ended with another win, and closing the transatlantic trip in an undefeated manner.
The Grecians controlled much of the match, but were trailing at the break courtesy of a goal against the tide. However second-half goals from Jimmy Keohane, Matt Jay and Ollie Watkins downed their hosts.
The visit to Rio Cricket Club saw City face a select XI. The Cricket Club play at amateur level in the Rio leagues and, broadly speaking, this is at Western League level, and a useful finale after taking on Fluminense and Tupi.
Paul Tisdale continued with the pre-season aim of giving players match time so again the line-up was shuffled. He also looked to juggle his playing resources after two tough matches and the prospect of the game back at St James Park against Premiership Swansea City next Tuesday evening. Both Jordan Moore Taylor and Liam Sercombe were rested after picking up knocks in the Tupi game.
Whatever level of football you see in Brazil, you can be sure that the players’ technical ability is high and the Rio Cricket Club team showed plenty of confidence right from the off, playing out from their own goalline at times.
However, this was mostly down to the City pressing, keeping them nailed down and therefore having the territorial advantage on a lush pitch, not brilliantly suited to passing play. On the ball, though, City demonstrated the now familiar neatness but were unable to quite break through despite several clever attacks notably involving Tom Nichols, who was denied each time by last ditch blocks, saves by the ‘keeper or sheer weight of numbers.
He also found space and time on the left to pick out Aaron Dawson coming in at the far post but was agonisingly just too high for Dawson to keep the header under the bar.
Typically, it seems in football, it is times like this when the opposition score and the hosts did just that, a chipped ball through the middle and the onrushing midfielder reached the ball just before Christy Pym to make it 1-0.
The rain started just after kick-off and fell harder as the half progressed. My viewpoint for much of the half was pretty unique for a City match, under a palm tree! From there, I had a great view of a Danny Coles header which was straight at the keeper as City’s pressure continued right until the end of the half but with nothing to show for it.
Wholesale changes at half-time saw Scot Bennett, Craig Woodman, David Wheeler, Matt Oakley and Jimmy Keohane take the field and the fresh line-up helped City achieve parity within four minutes when a superb intricate passing movem involving five players opened up the defence and allowed Keohane to tap in his second goal in Brazil.
The Rio Cricket Club team were visibly tiring and the goal was a jolt to any confidence they had gleaned from the 1-0 scoreline in their favour. A few untidy challenges started to come in but nothing massively sinister.
On 65 minutes, City took the lead. The Grecians had been having great success down the right and Matt Grimes dinked a ball into Jay who finished well from a tight angle to make it 2-1.
Shortly after, Tisdale again brought himself on, clearly with instant effect as City extended their lead immediately. As had seemed likely, sooner or later the hosts would be caught trying to play the ball out from defence. Watkins was the man to profit, finding himself in space and able to slot past the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
The game was City’s by now and it could have been four when Watkins conjured up a John Barnes Maracana-style run but couldn’t quite finish it off having rounded the keeper.
And there was a nice touch, giving our constant guide in Brazil, Luan, a run out for the last few minutes. If only he could have got on the end of a Keohane header, it would have been a certain goal and a fitting way to end a trip where such friendship has been displayed throughout.
3-1 it was at the final whistle and the fans and players gathered for a few words of thank you and photos on the steps of the Cricket Club before a celebratory barbeque provided once again by our kind hosts.
Again this was a worthwhile work out after the testing two previous matches. Players got more match minutes and experience of the systems Tisdale is working with and now all minds turn to a visit to Christ the Redeemer tomorrow (weather permitting), the journey home on Sunday and then the visit to St James Park of Premier League outfit Swansea City on Tuesday evening.
Full-time: Rio Cricket e Associação Atlética 1 Exeter City 3
Exeter City: Pym; Dawson (Wheeler 6), Baldwin (Woodman 46), Coles (Bennett 46), Tillson, Watkins; Butterfield (Oakley 46), Davies (Dawson 60), Grimes (Luan 85), Jay (Tisdale 69), Nichols (Keohane 46).