Grecians boss gives verdict on victory against ShrewsburyIt was great day all round for anyone with a red-and-white leaning at St James Park when the Grecians came from two goals down to beat Shrewsbury Town 3-2.
The bulk of the 3,933 spectators inside the Park left delighted, as two second-half goals from Tom Nichols and one from David Wheeler overturned a first-half brace from Shrews striker James Collins.
Collins had scored from distance to give the Shrews a lead, and then tapped in after James Wesolowski saw his effort saved. But Nichols netted within a minute of the restart, Wheeler headed the teams level, and Nichols completed his brace and City’s turnaround with a deft stoppage-time header.
And manager Paul Tisdale was understandably as pleased as anyone else in the stadium to have seen his team fight back from a precarious position to take all three points.
“It was a really good day,” Paul said. “You don’t always get what you want, but we got what we wanted today.
“We got that early goal after half-time, we got that goal midway through the second half, and then we got that injury-time winner. The players were fantastic in their response.
“People might expect the tea-cup and the kicked-boot across the dressing room at half-time – not always. There was clarity today because we were so comprehensively outplayed in many areas in the first half. It becomes a simple solution. We knew what we had to do and the players did it, which is easier said than done.
“We made crucial saves and blocks when we were behind, and the most important part about recovering a deficit is not conceding any more, and we managed to do that. We played some really good football.”
In truth, City could have gone even further behind when they were two down – they kept the game open in search of that all-important goal, which inevitably led to some gaps opening up at the back.
But City rode that particular storm, and Paul was pleased that they had managed to control the second-half after a difficult first period. And all the ingredients were there for a dramatic turnaround, which was completed in the 91st-minute – albeit that Exeter had to cling on during the remainder of stoppage-time.
“In any situation we want to manoeuvre the game our way and give us the best opportunity,” continued Paul. “We’re not a team that wants the opposition stood in front of their goal, as we found out at Warrington.
“That doesn’t suit us best – we need something fluid, and we got fluid today because Shrewsbury are a good team.
“And no matter how late you score, there is always a nervy two or three minutes and we had that at the end.
“Matt Oakley and Danny Butterfield made two really big blocks at the end – we had to defend right to the end.
“The players played their part – I hope they enjoyed it and learn from it, and it gives us a nice little boost going forward.
“Every game is different and I enjoy them all. I enjoy the ones we win even better. And when you score in the last minute, like away at Dagenham or today, you enjoy it just that bit more.”
In a game where every player made their mark, two of the notable contributors were James Hamon and Tom Nichols.
19-year-old Guernseyman James Hamon, making his Football League debut, pulled off some crucial saves to keep City in the game – no less than a one-on-one with Collins before half-time, who was looking to round off a hat-trick.
At the other end, Nichols netted a brace – taking him up to six for the season, and already matching last year’s tally – and both scored with ice-cool finishes.
“The big moment was at two-nil down five minutes before half-time when James Collins went through one-on-one , and James Hamon saved extremely well,” said Tis.
“He’ll be disappointed with the first goal – that wasn’t his best moment, but you’ve got to go in and play. He’s young and developing, and he has been the pick of the goalkeepers for the last five or six weeks in training and deserved his chance.
“He kicked and composed himself really well, so well done him – we’ve got another one coming through.
“Tom Nichols was very composed – he has got the mind for it and a very cool head. There aren’t many strikers that would have finished the way he did today – most would have slashed at it or headed it as hard as they could.
“They were two terrific finishes – that’s his game, and the more he does for the team by doing the team parts of the game, the more chance he has of being selected and the more opportunities he’ll have in the box and he’ll score his goals.”