Forward gives reaction to getting returning goal and victory at CambridgeNorthampton Town loanee Alex Nicholls was overjoyed to get his name back on the scoresheet for the first time in almost two years as he hit the winner for Exeter City against Cambridge United.
It was only the fourth appearance for the 26-year-old since jointly breaking his tibia and fibula in a game for the Cobblers in 2012, and it was another box ticked for the forward as he continues his comeback.
Nicholls’ goal, midway through the second period, gave City a 2-1 advantage. Earlier in the game he has slotted in Graham Cummins for the equaliser, following Ryan Bird’s early goal for the U’s.
He was also particularly pleased to have been able to prove that he is physically up to the challenge, after completing a second full match in the space of just four days.
“I’m absolutely over the moon to have played the way we did tonight,” said Alex. “It was a really enjoyable game from a personal view, and as a team we moved the ball brilliantly.
“We had that cutting edge that we haven’t had in the last couple of games. I’m really happy – it’s a really good result and on a personal level it’s a huge thing for me to get that goal and get that monkey off my back.
“I wanted to try and get a goal as soon as I could once I got back playing because the longer you go without scoring, the longer you question yourself.
“I think I’ve removed some of the question-marks over my head fitness-wise. Playing 90 minutes on Saturday and tonight, there was a question whether I would be able to cope physically.
“Thankfully I’ve come through both without any problems and felt quite good. Getting a goal and playing 90 minutes on Saturday and Tuesday is a big thing for me, and I’m really pleased.”
There was an intensity about both of Exeter’s goals which was pleasing for Alex, in particular with the team having spent time in training looking to fashion goals in such a way.
Drifting out to the left, it looked like the change to shoot was gone for Nicholls but he pulled the ball back across the face and inside the Chris Dunn’s far post for the winner.
“It was exactly what we worked on in training – getting in the hole behind the back four and breaking as fast as we can and getting runners, and that’s what we did,” he continued.
“Graham played me a nice pass across the box and I took a touch and took it quite early, which perhaps caught the ‘keeper out a little bit.
“I thought I might have gone a bit too wide, and I think the ‘keeper thought I had gone a bit too wide as well – I don’t think he was expecting me to take the shot.
“Luckily it went in the bottom corner and we won the game, which was the main thing.
“Both goals were pleasing from a personal and a team point of view – the football leading up to both goals was spot on.”
He also admitted that the style of football was something that had been especially fun to be involved in.
City’s passing on the deck was sublime at times and some of build-up play was particularly easy on the eye.
“For the first five or ten minutes we were a bit slow, but once we got the ball down and started moving it, it was a joy to play in,” said Alex.
“I’m not sure how it looked from the sidelines, but if it looked as good as it felt being out there, the fans will have been very happy.
“It’s one of the most complete performances I have played in from a footballing perspective. We were solid at the back, moved the ball brilliantly, and had that cutting-edge that we didn’t quite have on Saturday.”