Tis: “I enjoyed the way we played”

Paul looks back on draw with Luton

Following a 1-1 draw with Luton Town at St James Park, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale was impressed with his team’s performance but also tinged with disappointment that they Grecians couldn’t find the three points.

It threatened to be a long afternoon for City when Scott Griffiths headed Luton into the lead from a corner with just three minutes on the clock.  But conversely Exeter went on to have the running of the game and were thoroughly impressive in their play.

Luton did have chances – primarily on the counter-attack – but it was Exeter that saw most of the ball and threatened the net.  The goal came 20 minutes from time as Tom Nichols scored from the spot just minutes after coming off the bench.

And Paul was full of praise towards his players for the way they responded to the early setback and kept plugging away until that equaliser came – as well as threatening to find a winner.

“I really enjoyed the way we played,” Paul said.  “After conceding an early goal we really played our game well and built our performance, and finished really strongly.  We finished like a train.

“For the last half an hour, we deserved our goal and arguably we deserved a second.  I think the opposition, albeit they’re top of the league, left the pitch today glad that the final whistle had been blown and that says everything about the way we played.

“We didn’t panic and we didn’t go two down, which has happened twice this season so that’s a big step forward.

“A set piece can always unpick you, and they did – it was a really good delivery and a good header.  We still had 88 minutes to respond, and we responded really well. 

“We didn’t panic and we didn’t overdo it – we built our performance and in the second half we got stronger and stronger and stronger.  It shows how well we’re progressing as a team.

“They players are really disappointed [with a draw], but that’s a good sign.”

It was full-back Christian Ribeiro that won the decisive penalty in the 70th minute, allowing sub Nichols the chance to net from 12 yards.

Until that point, Luton had been clinging onto their slender advantage by defending deep and dealing with everything Exeter threw their way.

But Ribeiro’s turn of pace committed left-back Griffiths who dived into the tackle, failed to win the ball, and toppled the Exeter man as the referee blew up for a spot-kick,

Paul was particularly pleased with the workmanlike energy and decisive attitude that Ribeiro showed to win the penalty, as well as being pleased for Tom Nichols to have netted for the second time in the week after again being thrown in from the bench.

“Often when you have a game when you’ve got good possession and you’ve got a team penned in and you’ve got that incessant surge towards their goal, it’s a set-piece or a mistake that leads to your equaliser,” explained Tis.

“When a team is parking the bus and focused on their defending, they rarely make a mistake and allow them to play through you.  What they will do is make a mistake from a set-piece, or as we saw today, a lunge and a penalty.

“It still needed finishing and well done to Tom Nichols – whether it’s after a minute or 91 minutes, he’s our penalty taker until I decide differently.  He took it really well.

“Christian Ribeiro was very tired in the second half – him and Craig Woodman were up and down the line and the way the systems went, they matched us up with the diamond so he had the space and he kept pushing and pushing.

“I said to him two or three minutes before, ‘just take a chance and get in the box – if you’re feeling tired and you’re strong and fit as you are, just imagine how tired your opponent is.’  It proved to be the case – the chap couldn’t stay on his feet and lunged.”