Manager lauds team after Cambridge winGrecians manager Paul Tisdale felt that Exeter City’s 2-1 win away at Cambridge United was one of the best performances he has overseen during his time at St James Park.
The hosts came flying out of the blocks and scrambled a fortuitous goal through Ryan Bird with just eight minutes on the clock, leaving Exeter with all the work to do.
But from then on, Exeter kicked into a different gear and controlled the tempo of the game throughout. Graham Cummins netted his second Grecians goal on 17 minutes after receiving a slide-rule pass from Alex Nicholls, and City twice hit the woodwork through David Wheeler and Matt Grimes.
But midway through the second half the roles were reversed as Cummins laid in Nicholls for the match-winner, earning Exeter the three points that their dominance deserved.
“It’s dangerous to wax too lyrical about the way you’ve played – but I will tonight,” said Paul after the final whistle.
“That was one of the best performances I have had as Exeter City manager, and that’s saying something because those that have got a good enough memory will remember lots of the good performances we’ve put in in the past.
“To play that well at the bottom of League 2 and under the pressure that we’re under, and against a very physical side and going a goal down after eight minutes – it was fantastic.
“I’ve just got to be careful that we don’t get carried away – it was only three points and we have a game on Saturday, but I’m really pleased. It was a really, really top performance.”
With Oxford United also earning their first win, City remain in the relegation places in the early stages of the season.
But Tis felt that the win at the R Costings Abbey Stadium will kick-start the Grecians’ season and get Exeter back up and running.
“It’s only three points but it’s a big turning point for this team I think,” continued Paul. “I’ve stuck with it and backed them to keep playing, and backed myself to keep doing it.
“I keep saying it, but the season started too soon for us and we weren’t ready for it. We were handicapped with the transfer embargo and the trip to Brazil which put us back, and we’re getting it going now.
“All the players gave everything tonight – they gave energy and commitment and togetherness – and football. It was the full package.”
Nicholls’ match-winning strike was his first competitive goal since sustaining a double leg-break 23 months ago, and the City manager admitted he had a lump in his throat when the 26-year-old found the net.
The forward, on loan from Northampton, was instrumental in the team’s performance and Tis felt that he will have enjoyed the way in which the team played.
Paul continued: “I felt tearful watching him score – God knows what he felt like. I was so pleased for him when he scored and I could see the emotion on his face.
“It’s been a heck of a long time to come back from the injury he had and it was a really good finish. And all the players gave him a round of applause in the dressing room afterwards, which is a nice thing.
“He’s come to us for his own progress – let’s make no bones about it. We’re doing him a favour and he is doing us about it.
“He is a Northampton player and he’ll go back there at some point, but he won’t enjoy a game of football as much as he did tonight, I’m sure of it.”