Manager gives post-match verdict after win at LutonExeter City manager was delighted with his team for fighting from two goals down to claim a dramatic 3-2 victory away at Luton Town.
The Grecians trailed to goals by Luke Guttridge and Mark Cullen at half-time – despite Exeter showing plenty of good play and creating decent opportunities to burst the net, it was the Hatters that were in the ascendency on the scoreboard.
But Ryan Harley instigated a fightback with a goal early after the interval before Jordan Moore-Taylor’s second of the season levelled matters 15 minutes from time. And then after Arron Davies had been denied a winner by a linesman’s flag, David Wheeler sealed the game from close range in the 95th minute after Christian Ribeiro’s header had been pushed onto the post.
Tis felt that the Grecians’ trust in their own game and belief that they could win – even at two goals down – was the reason that they secured the result.
“At half-time there was a minute or two of talk about details, and then it was a synopsis of the situation, in that two goals is a very difficult scoreline [for Luton] to protect at half-time – in that do you sit back and defend, or do you keep playing as you were?” explained Paul.
“I think we were unlucky to come out at half-time two-nil down, I really did. But that was the reality and so I explained to the players that one goal against a team that are two-nil up can turn the game.
“Maybe their second goal didn’t do them a favour. Maybe the fact that it was two-nil made it very simple for us and meant we had to go for it – not that we were reserved in the first half; we were certainly attacking.
“But when you have got a lead and you’ve got a long time to hold onto it, and the other team is pressing and pressing as we were… we believed we could win. I did say to them, ‘if you score one, you can score three’. But you have to believe it first.
“That first ten minutes after half-time was about us believing that we were able to do it. That meant that being free with the ball, passing it, and not worrying about mistakes. Once you’ve got that mentality, you’ve got a chance to push on.
“It was a fantastic game of football. It’s not the sort of game you want to lose. It’s the sort of game that when you win, you remember it for a long time.
“It’s hard to discuss Luton’s situation at the moment because I’m very fond of John [Still] and his team, but for us it was a big game and puts us even closer to the play-offs. We knew how important it was and we kept going. There is no better to win a game of football than that.”
It puts the Grecians level on points with the Hatters, and gives Exeter the chance to meet Newport County AFC at St James Park on Easter Monday and get another good result against a team they are chasing.
The quick turnaround will mean for a bit of rest and recuperation for some of the legs in the City camp.
“Monday is a different game with a different feeling, and the expectation will be different,” continued Paul.
“We need to take note of things today and assess Monday’s game completely differently.
“It’s a new game with a new opposition – it’s a different match altogether so we’ll see.”