Goalscorer on the win against NewportDavid Wheeler was pleased with a perfect return from the Easter weekend as the Grecians took a second maximum with a 2-0 win at home against Newport County AFC.
The game was played in blistering heat – comparatively to recent weather, at least – and Wheeler’s introduction midway through the second half gave fresh legs in the forward positions.
The former Staines man, who had been Johnny-on-the-spot at Kenilworth Road to stab home a 95th-minute winner against Luton Town on Good Friday, was again involved in the goals against Newport. After netting the first himself, he won a penalty in the final minute to allow Ryan Harley to seal the deal.
And he felt that the team were well aware of the magnitude of getting the right result in the game, which has now taken the Grecians back to within a point off the play-off places.
“We all knew how big the game was coming into it off the back of the win on Friday which was again huge because we caught Luton up,” said Wheeler.
“Now being only one point behind Newport going into it is massive for us.
“It didn’t help being so hot for the entire game – it was really difficult for both teams to play in that heat and that showed with how cagey it was. It is difficult to play in those conditions.
“In the second half it opened up and luckily we were on the right end of it.”
Wheeler combined with fellow sub Clinton Morrison for the first goal. The former Ireland international was allowed space to turn and drive, and slipped a well-weighted ball through the centre for Wheeler to chase and after holding off Andy Sandell’s challenge, goalkeeper Joe Day wasn’t able to prevent the shot from nestling in the net.
David revealed that he was hoping to take advantage of the tiring defence in the heat of the early kick-off.
“I’d been played through just before then by Clint and maybe should have had a shot first time,” he explained. “I just knew that every time he could get a turn on the ball, or Matt Oakley or Ryan Harley or anyone in midfield, I was just going to spin in behind.
“That’s my game and I can test people behind with my pace and I knew if I could get one of the players on the turn, then they would play me through because they’ve got the quality to do that.
“I just arced my run a little bit and I was chuffed that the ball was perfect from Clint straight through the middle.
“I was just going to keep it as low as I could – I’d gone a touch wide and thought my best chance was to just keep it low and luckily it went in.”
City then had to withstand some pressure from the Exiles before the penalty in the final minute. Wheeler burst down the right and with the ball sticking to the turf, defender Ismail Yakubu eventually caught up with the City man but only conspired to bundle him down, and was shown a red card for the challenge.
Harley was made to wait an age to take the spot kick while referee Gavin Ward restored order, but he kept a cool head and sent Day the wrong way to effectively seal the game as the game entered stoppage time.
“It was a bit of a similar situation to the first goal because I was trying to drag the ball with me because the pitch was so dry, and the ball was bobbling up as I was running with it which is always difficult,” Wheeler continued.
“It gave the defender time to get back in and I just took a touch across him and he caught me.
“So it was great for Ryan and the team that he took that because he effectively killed the game.”