Grecians earn last-gasp winner in Juiz de ForaExeter City’s second game of their 2014 tour to Brazil ended with a 2-1 victory against Tupi in Juiz De Fora, and more silverware for the Grecians.
City went behind to a goal by Maranhão in the second period, but Jimmy Keohane coolly levelled after bright work from Ollie Watkins – and then Danny Coles grabbed the winner in added time from Matt Oakley’s delivery.
With the memory of the historic return to Laranjeiras behind them, City moved on into the mountains, leaving Rio State for Juiz De Fora, a city of half a million people located in Mina Gerais.
As guests of the modern and excellent university in Juiz de Fora, City’s extraordinary modern odyssey continued against Tupi, who currently sit just three points off the top of the Campeonato Brasileiro Série C Grupo B.
The Juiz de Fora side seemed likely to provide a stern test for the visitors, despite having to play out of their hugely atmospheric home stadium due to the pitch being relaid. Named after the Tupi Indian tribe, one of the first to resist the Portuguese settlers over 500 years ago, the local club is better known for its appearance on YouTube thanks to the antics of an infamous opposition physio. However, despite the friendly welcome from them to their visitors, the men in black and white would clearly be set on beating these modern invaders in red and white stripes.
The structure and style of play was once again evident when City were off the ball and the neat play with the ball continued right from the start, notable with Jimmy Keohane and Tom Nichols staying close together and linking up very cleverly several times, including with a cheeky Brazilian style backheel.
Nichols would have considered himself unlucky at least three times in the half when almost but not quite released as City kept on the pressure. Keohane managed to free himself down the left and almost found him from the byline and then great work down the left from Jordan Moore-Taylor, Craig Woodman and Matt Grimes almost released him again.
Up against a giant of a defender in Helder, Nichols was proving a handful and taking the honours in the physical contest. City faltered slightly when having to replace Moore-Taylor with a foot injury. Butterfield dropped into the middle of the defence, Keohane played more withdrawn and Jay came on to partner Nichols. Despite this, Christy Pym only really had a few regulation saves to make as half time was reached with the score still 0-0.
Tupi made a raft of changes for the second half and it looked to have pepped them up, pushing on early and earning a free kick 25 yards out, which Chico curled around the wall. Pym was on his toes and tipped it away for a corner.
But City settled and the balance of the first half was again restored once Pym had dealt competently with a screamer from Alvaro that moved but was essentially straight at him.
City’s substitutions on 58 minutes saw Arron Davies, Aaron Dawson, Matt Grimes and Matt Jay replaced by David Wheeler, Liam Sercombe, Ollie Watkins and Matt Oakley – and Sercombe became the first City player to get a shot on target shortly after. This minor joy was short lived when Tupi’s Ewerthon Maradona sent a free kick into the box which got stuck between a cluster of legs and the home side’s Maranhão prodded the ball in.
After the setback, City changed formation again to a more positive style when Jordan Tillson and Pat Baldwin replaced Woodman and Nichols, allowing Scot Bennett to move up front and Watkins and Wheeler to push further forward on the flanks.
City pressure on Tupi increased as time progressed and it finally told on 83 minutes when Ollie Watkins’ superb run past his marker and intelligently-placed cross was firmly side footed home by Keohane for the equaliser.
The fun wasn’t over though. Now with their tails up City continued to push their opponents back and when Oakley worked a short corner with Watkins deep in injury time, his perfect cross was headed home by Coles for the winner.
On the final whistle shortly afterwards, travelling Grecians were able to celebrate a fine performance and a 2-1 victory that was well deserved for patience, character and no little skill.
The Indians from the Onda Solidaria project the club visited the day before the game made the journey into Juiz de Fora to support the Grecians. They led a sing-a-long in the changing rooms before the game and they celebrated with the players after the match – our new friends seem to be some kind of lucky charm.
The club’s fine hosts at the University had made the club feel so welcome in Juiz de Fora, providing hotel, food, training facilities and opponents. They had also arranged a fine glass trophy to present to the winner and skipper, Scot Bennett went forward to collect his second trophy in four days.
Full-time: Tupi 1 Exeter City 2
Tupi: Rodrigo Viana, Marcelinho, Wesley Ladeira, Toledo, Filipe Alves, Helder Maciel, Maguinho, Gustavo, Oliveira, Dieguinho, Chico.
Subs: Gonçalves, Rafael Victor, Bruno Barros, Henrique, Fabrício Soares, Genalvo, Migue, Alvaro, Ewerton Maradona, Elder Santana, Maranhão, Lee, Neguete.
Exeter City: Pym, Butterfield, Woodman (Baldwin 68), Bennett, Coles, Grimes (Oakley 58), Keohane, Davies (Watkins 58), Moore Taylor (Jay 20 (Wheeler 58)), Dawson (Sercombe 58), Nichols (Tillson 68).