Grecians boss praises defensive effort after success at the County GroundEXETER CITY manager Paul Tisdale commended the valiant defensive performance of his players after they beat Swindon Town at the County Ground to secure a place in the Second Round of the Capital One Cup.
Alex Nicholls and David Wheeler got the first-half goals which were enough for the Grecians, though it was backs to the wall for much of the latter stages to keep out the League 1 Robins after Jonathan Obika's goal had pulled the score back to 2-1.
"It was a fantastic win for us," Paul said. "I said to the players that sometimes, you have to put your pride aside, and we agreed as a team that we'd let them have the ball. We were connected and defensively close, but we wanted to be fast and accurate on the break. I think that the first half showed that that was a plan worth taking.
"It was always going to be a different second half - they changed their shape at half-time, and got the ball into the wider areas more quickly in the second period. They put the ball out wide, and used overlaps and underlaps, and then we were made to make our change when they scored their first goal. We still stuck to the plan, though - it just shows you what you can do when you move together, defend and chase. We had that lead, and we stuck to it.
"Swindon had lots of possession and lots of shots, but we have to be thankful that our players stuck to the task and worked very hard for each other. The supporters were wonderful - they were always behind us, and we could hear them for twenty to twenty-five minutes at the end of the game. They pushed us along and it was a really enjoyable evening.
"It doesn't always work - we've had our times where we've set ourselves up similarly and it hasn't quite worked, but it was a wonderful pitch and the surface was fantastic. It was a great night for counter-attacking football, and we accepted the challenge. I think it was important that I was able to give the team some kind of strategy for the night, but it was up to the players to accept that and work together."
The City defenders certainly earned their pay at the County Ground, dealing with a whopping fifteen corners to secure a spot in the second round of the competition for only the second time in twenty-two years.
"It was the sort of game that you want to be a defender in," Paul said. "You know that for all of eighty-five minutes you'll be defending your last third, and people like Troy Brown and Jordan Tillson were immaculate.
"Well done in particular to Jordan, who came in for us and did fantastically well. For someone like Ryan Harley, who spent the whole game shuffling and killing space, I do think he's one of the best defenders I've had at Exeter. He might not dive into tackles and make big headers, but over my nine years he's been one of the best. He covers the right areas; he cuts off the lines - he is very intelligent, and his performance, without touching the ball much at all, was wonderful."
"I was delighted for Alex Nicholls - he showed a sudden confidence after that first goal - his break and dribble to create the second goal was brilliant. Will Hoskins came on and added some intensity to that top end of our side, and supported David Wheeler really well, but I have to say, it was a great team effort. I was without some of the players that I would normally have selected, but it was a wonderful outing for us.
"I'm really pleased to be in the next round for once!"