Paul reflects on narrow defeat in HampshireFollowing a 1-0 loss to Portsmouth at Fratton Park, Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale felt that the result could have just as easily been reversed based on the balance of play.
An exciting, open and entertaining game of football saw presentable chances at both ends – Josh Passley and James Dunne struck the woodwork either side of half-time for the hosts, and Arron Davies saw an effort bounce off Paul Jones’ crossbar late in the game.
Jed Wallace had blazed a penalty over the bar midway through the second period when Matt Tubbs was brought down in the box by Christian Ribeiro, but the Pompey man made amends with a stoppage-time winner.
While disappointed with the defeat, Tis felt that playing an end-to-end kind of game was their best chance of getting the win – and that it was ever so close to falling their way.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win it,” he explained. “From the 15th minute onwards we made changes and opened it up, so it was an open game from then.
“That’s what we had considered to be our best chance of getting a result, to open it up and play our game through the middle of the pitch.
“I thought we played really well – they gave it a go as well and it really was either team that could have scored. We gave ourselves a really good chance.
“A fair result on reflection would have been a draw, but we were as likely to win it as lose it and that’s what we gave ourselves the opportunity to do. Three points is more important to us that the one, and we tried to do that.
“We’re disappointed but I’m really pleased with the way that that players played. The supporters were brilliant and it was a great game of football, and it’s a shame we lost.”
The goal came just after the game had ticked into stoppage-time – a throw-in down the left saw the ball eventually fall to Wallace, who danced around a couple of challenges before pulling the trigger with a bending shot around Christy Pym and into the bottom corner.
Paul wasn’t critical of the defending, which had been solid throughout, but was frustrated that his team wasn’t able to break down the Portsmouth resistance, stretching their run to four games without conceding.
“I normally have to go back and watch the video to really dissect things,” Paul said of the winning goal. “The fact of the matter is that we’ve got them against the line with the throw-in, and they’ve come on the inside – anything that comes on the inside opens the goal up.
“As soon as he cut into that D, the chances of scoring greatly rise. He took it very, very well.
“You can go back through and pick minor fault with probably four or five players – that’s always the way you get with a goal. The fact is we defended very well all game.
“I suppose the more salient point is that we should have stuck the ball in the back of the net leading up to that. As well as the defenders defended, if you have to keep it nil-nil all the time then pressure gradually mounts.
“We had our opportunities, and even in that last five minutes Arron Davies hit the crossbar, Matt Oakley had a very good chance blocked and David Wheeler didn’t get on the end of a cross.
“That has to be more of a talking point for us than minor faults that lead to a goal. I’m disappointed that we didn’t put the ball in the net today – but we tried very hard.”