Nicholls: “We held our chests out and put our chins up”

Forward praises character of team after winning from behind

Exeter City forward Alex Nicholls was full of praise for the character that his teammates showed in the face of adversity by coming from behind to beat Mansfield Town 3-2.

City had initially taken the lead through Tom Nichols, by Billy Kee and Varaine Oliver each scored after the break to put the Stags 2-1 ahead.

It was at that point that Alex Nicholls was introduced, with a little over quarter of an hour to go.  And Exeter scored twice in the space of four minutes as Scot Bennett swept in a corner from Liam Sercombe and Nicholls converted a spot-kick after goalkeeper Adam Smith felled David Wheeler in the box after he nipped in on a lax back-pass.

Alex was particularly pleased with the kind of charisma that the team showed to battle back from their position to take victory.

“It’s a credit to us to have fought back – after the way the last three results have gone, another team would have crumbled,” he said.

“But at 2-1 down, we’ve got strong characters in the dressing room and we held our chests out and put our chins up and we went for it.

“Scotty [Bennett] got a good goal – I thought he was brilliant today after he came back into the team today, and I was happy to get the winner at the end.

“We got that goal from being on the front-foot.  I’ve run into the channel and put the defender under pressure, and if Dave isn’t as switched-on and alert as he was, we wouldn’t have won the penalty.”

Tom Nichols’ goal on the half-hour – his tenth goal of the season – was a well-directed header from Arron Davies’ cross.

Alex admitted that he didn’t have the chance to admire its quality as he was busy preparing himself – but was full of praise for his teammate on his landmark goal.

“I missed Tom’s goal, to be honest – I was just putting my shin-pads in!” he said.

“But Tommy has been fantastic since I’ve been back.  He’s putting the ball in the back of the net and that’s the biggest thing for a striker.”

With 15 minutes to go, City were facing the prospect of a fourth straight defeat.

But Nicholls is hopeful that a resilient showing will mark the start of another upward curve for the Grecians.

“With the last few weeks we’ve had, winning a game like that at the end would lift any team,” Alex continued.

“We’re just thankful to get the three points and hopefully we’ve turned the corner after the last few weeks of disappointing results.

“Mansfield have strengthened so far in January and there is a bit of freshness to them, so we knew they were going to come out sharp and that’s exactly what they did.

“They had got a good squad and they put us under pressure for long parts of the game, especially at the start of the second half.

“But it’s gone for us today.  In the last two or three games things haven’t gone for us – today we cleared stuff off the line and we could have been a couple of goals down after 20 minutes of the second half.

“We stuck in there and rode our luck at times, but we’re happy to get the result.

“When you win games like that at the death and when you have rode your luck, it can give you that bit of extra confidence.

“Hopefully we can go into the next game with a bit more spark about us, and go to Oxford get another three points to get back-to-back wins which would push us up that table nicely.”