City manager looks back on late defeat to SouthendFollowing a 1-0 defeat to Southend United at St James Park, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale felt that the Grecians could have won the fixture if they had converted their chances.
Southend managed to record a sixth consecutive clean-sheet, but it wasn’t for want of trying on the Grecians behalf. Rarely did the visitors have sustained control of the game, and the Grecians edged possession and chances.
Shrimpers stopper Daniel Bentley had to be on his toes on a few occasions as City managed to work their way through a stern defence, but rarely was he truly troubled as many shots ended up wayward.
Ultimately City were caught in stoppage-time, allowing Michael Timlin to steal in to win it late – and Tis felt that that was always the risk when opportunities had come and gone.
“We went for it – we played three centre-halves at the end to try and win the game,” Paul said. “It’s cruel – it’s very hard to talk when you feel as I do at the moment.
“I feel very differently than I did after Wycombe – it was a different type of game and it’s cruel. We are still in it but we have got ourselves in a very difficult position if we want to consider the play-offs now.
“We tried our very best and I thought the team played really well, especially in the first half. In the first hour I thought we played really well.
“We didn’t hit the target when we had some really good chances to. You get what you deserve in the end and we didn’t hit the target.
“Being particularly blunt about it, we had our chances to hit the target to score, and we didn’t. So you get more drawn out and risk-friendly as the game goes on knowing that you have to win, and when you haven’t taken your chance.
“That’s the story of the afternoon – we had our chances and didn’t take them.”
Naturally the post-match atmosphere was one of disappointment, as the Grecians’ play-off hopes took a big blow.
But Paul stated that it would be business as usual going into the final two games, with a trip to Hartlepool and a home tie against Dagenham still remaining and six points still to play for.
“You learn to not take too much notice of those emotions because that can’t dominate your thinking going forward,” said Paul. “It’s all about driving the team forward the best you can.
“Of course they are absolutely and totally disappointed with the outcome. And sometimes you’ve got to ignore those emotions because it’s about what happens next, not what’s just gone.”
After a dust-up against Wycombe in midweek, Paul was left short on options ahead of the fixture.
Christian Ribeiro, Alex Nicholls and Lee Holmes – all regular starters in recent weeks – were all completely unavailable for selection.
That paved the way Jimmy Keohane’s first start since the 3-2 victory against Shrewsbury Town in November.
Keohane was replaced late on by first-year pro Matt Jay, making just his third appearance of his maiden season with the first team, and Paul was pleased with the contributions of the pair.
“I picked a side to get the best out of the players that I had available,” continued Tis. “That is Jimmy’s best position and he played it really well, which I’m not surprised about.
“With the players that dropped out in the last 48 hours, I picked the team about ten times. We ended up today putting a team on the pitch and I tried to get everyone in a position that suited them. And Jimmy did really well.
“And Matt Jay looked bright when he came on – he was only on for a short time but he did well.”