Midfielder hoping City can keep displays comingA third straight win in League 2 on Saturday for Exeter at the expense of Bury makes the Grecians one of the form teams in the division.
Only Southend – who beat Shrewsbury 1-0 at Roots Hall to record a fourth successive win – are in a richer vein of form over the past fortnight.
Midfielder Matt Grimes got City up and running with an early free-kick, which bamboozled Rob Lainton in the Shakers’ goal. Tom Soares equalised in the second period, but Jimmy Keohane turned in a close-range winner to secure three invaluable points for Exeter.
And after seeing three very different opponents in Cambridge, Tranmere and Bury, the 19-year-old midfielder is hoping that the Grecians can continue to play to the same high standards over the coming weeks.
“We’ve strung a couple of good performances and wins together now, and we hope to keep improving and keeping our standards high and see where it takes us,” said Grimes.
“No game is the same – you have to adapt to playing different teams. Today Bury were a very passing team that kept it on the deck and played through us well at times. We rode it out and when we could attack we kept the ball well, and it was a good end to the game.
“I’d say Bury were the best we’ve played so far – they were the best at keeping the ball and passing it on the deck and passing through teams, and I thought they were fantastic at times.
“But we matched them and you saw this afternoon that we can go blow-to-blow with even the best in this league.
“They had a time when they were on top of us and we rode it out well – obviously they go their goal, but from that they wanted to push on for the win.
“Tis changed the shape and that really worked well for us and we took control in the last ten or 15 minutes with our passing, and got the goal off the back of it.”
Alex Nicholls won a free-kick in the opening five minutes on the edge of the area, allowing Grimes to step up to the mark.
His rasping free-kick earned him his second goal of the campaign and his third career goal – all of which have come from free-kicks.
He explained: “I’ve been practicing free-kicks all week with Mel [Gwinnett] – I didn’t actually practice that particular one to go over the wall and into the open side, but it was about practicing the technique and getting the muscle memory on it, and that helped out.
“Me and Alex [Nicholls] were having a little chat and he decided it was too close for him to go over the wall, and then the ‘keeper was probably thinking I was going to go around the wall, but thankfully I’ve outfoxed him and went the other side.”
His City and England Under-20 teammate Christy Pym was named as the sponsors’ Man of the Match come the final whistle, and Grimes was full of praise for his colleague.
The stopper had had to undergo a lengthy spell of treatment, including getting a nasty head injury sewn up after Shakers forward Ryan Lowe inadvertently caught him, but went on to put in a huge performance for his team.
“Christy was class today,” Grimes said. “He really did make a good couple of saves and his kicking was fantastic.
“To be honest I don’t think the head injury really fazed him! He’s got a couple of stitches in now and he looks a bit banged up, but nothing that time won’t heal.”
And Grimes feels that his personal level of performance was reaching the kind of standard he was hoping for in recent weeks.
Over the course of September, and since returning from England Under-20 duty, Grimes has been one of the Grecians’ outstanding performers and he is pleased to have been able to get things up and running again.
“I feel like I had a slow start to the season and that I wasn’t at my best for the first couple of games,” explained Matt.
“But whether the England experience had an impact on me, which I’m sure it did, it gave me a real confidence boost.
“After that I’ve felt like I’ve got my performance levels back up where I want them to be and that’s where I hope to keep them.”