Grecians forward on victory at Kenilworth RoadDavid Wheeler, who scored the match-winning goal in a 3-2 win against Luton Town, felt that the Grecians’ first goal was all-important in the context of the game.
City had to take a two-goal deficit into the break after Luke Guttridge and Mark Cullen had the Hatters ahead, but Ryan Harley halved the deficit early after the interval as he hooked in a volley when Matt Oakley dinked a neat ball over his shoulder.
The Grecians had been playing positive football throughout the game, but that goal in particular gave City the impetus to go on and get the equaliser – which came 15 minutes from time through defender Jordan Moore-Taylor.
That ultimately set up a grandstand finish, which Wheeler himself capped off in the fifth minute of added time.
“Everyone is pausing for breath a little bit – it was that good,” Wheeler said. “We had a discussion before that it was probably the biggest game of the season for us because it could get us back on track and in the hunt for the play-offs.
“In the first half we had played really well. In the midfield we played some really good football and we were really unlucky.
“It was an incredible volley from Ryan [Harley] over his shoulder – definitely watch that back! For a team like Luton that have lost so many recently, when you score you never know.
“The atmosphere changes in the ground and I think everyone sensed it. We just had the belief that we could go on and win it after that.”
Even before Wheeler netted the winner, City fans had had celebrations cut short in stoppage-time after Arron Davies’ close-range header was quickly ruled out but the assistant’s flag.
But Wheeler – who himself had been denied a goal by an offside call in the draw against Morecambe the previous weekend – was delighted to see the flag stay down as the players celebrated with the 429 travelling supporters.
Lee Holmes had burst down the right to clip in a cross which was met by the head of Christian Ribeiro – goalkeeper Elliot Justham had performed wonders to divert the effort onto the post but was powerless to prevent Wheeler from following in.
“We seem to be able to cling on and keep going – which is incredible and really exciting,” he continued.
“When Arron Davies had his header disallowed, we were running out of time and we only had a couple of minutes left – I thought that was it.
“Then it was a great header [from Ribeiro] and it was an unbelievable save. I followed it in and luckily it fell straight to me.
“Last week I had one disallowed and apparently that was marginally offside. So the first thing I did was have a look at the linesman and I was so chuffed.”
The result takes Exeter to within three points of the play-offs with six games remaining, and Newport County AFC – who sit above Exeter – are the next opponent as they visit St James Park on Easter Monday.
“It’s going to be like this every game from now on – going for the win every single game because that’s what we have to do,” Wheeler said.
“We’ll train at some point to prepare for the game on Monday but it will be a case of resting up and refuelling.”