City supporters defeat locals on AndrosThe Exiles, a group of Exeter City supporters based away from Devon, came out as penalty shoot-out winners after a high-scoring draw in their annual friendly fixture against the locals in Ydrousa.
It is the eighth year that the Exiles have played a friendly game against Ydrousa, a town on the island of Andros, and each year it throws up an entertaining fixture with a competitive and cordial rivalry.
This time around, the travelling City fans were the winners – triumphing 4-3 on penalties, after drawing 8-8 at the final whistle.
A little short on numbers this year, the Exiles’ side was bolstered with the inclusion of a few Greek locals into their ranks.
And the Exiles made a fast start – in the first attack, a Guppy cross from the right eluded all the defenders and nestled in the far corner with the keeper stranded. 34 seconds, 1-0 to the visitors.
However, all this seemed to do was irk the home side and within 15 minutes the tide had been turned and the guests were on the verge of being given a hiding, now being 4-1 down.
The corner count for Ydrousa was climbing and Le Milliere had been called into action to keep the score as low as it was! There had needed to be a bit of reorganisation as Flores had to be replaced having suffered a calf injury with Demerel replacing him.
But as the half progressed, Shepherd and Vidal began to exert more influence in midfield and more chances created at the right end. Guppy spurned a glorious opportunity from six yards, Fitzgerald crashed a shot off the crossbar and some hesitant defending saw a post struck also but chances needed to be taken.
And the spurned opportunities were highlighted when, after Papachristos replaced Phillipos, a sloppy back pass by the newcomer left the striker with a simple finish to put the hosts 5-1 up.
Sensing a need to regroup, Shepherd, captaining the side for a record fourth time, took the chance to request a drinks break after another Ydrousa attack had ended with a wayward shot, the ball clearing goal and fence and nestling in the middle of the goat herd in the adjacent field.
But, almost immediately Vidal struck from 20 yards to reduce the arrears, then a Shepherd volley from 15 yards into the top corner gave a fairer reflection of the game.
As time ticked down a slide-rule pass down the wing from Shepherd to Demerel took the left back out of the game. The hosts were waiting for a linesman’s flag that was never going to come, and so a pinpoint cross found Fitzgerald who powered home from six yards. That was the final action of a frantic first half and the start of the drama.
With no changes at half time the action restarted in the worst possible way for the Exiles. Almost as quickly as they’d led in the first half they found themselves two goals down again.
But unlike the first half the Exiles didn’t crumble. Dyer, Ahrends, and Rudawski were defending stoutly as the game opened up and it was the basis for a comeback of the ages.
A pinpoint Shepherd corner was again powerfully headed home by Fitzgerald despite protestations of a foul from the home keeper.
A quick fire goal from the hosts was cancelled out by a 30 yard piledriver by Vidal and after Demerel skipped through the home defence, leaving five defenders and goalkeeper in knots the scores were level at 7-7.
Ydrousa found a second wind but Dyer and his defence stood firm until the inevitable happened and a slide rule pass left an easy finish.
With two minutes left on the clock the Exiles piled forward and forced several corners. From the final one the goalmouth mêlée left Papachristos on the floor and amid appeals from both sides the referee pointed to the spot.
Shepherd stepped up to take the captains responsibility and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to level the scores and force a shoot-out.
With the penalty takers appointed, Ydrousa went first – and the first six penalties were all scored. Guppy and Vidal thumped home high into the net and Fitzgerald fired low down the middle.
Then, the drama really started. Ydrousa missed their fourth and it gave Shepherd the chance to take advantage. Selecting the same side as his normal time penalty the strike wasn’t quite as accurate and cannoned back off the post.
But Ydrousa couldn’t put the pressure back on as the imposing figure of Le Milliere in goal forced another miss. This left debutant Dyer to wrap things up by firing low and hard beyond the keeper’s dive to secure a crucial win.
After trophies, shirts and mementoes had been exchanged and photos taken the players and supporters retired to the seafront restaurants to celebrate.
The team would like to thank Martin Clarke, Chris Woolcott, Julie Le Milliere, Jenny Lees, Jackie Corr, Roger Pyne, Terry Guppy, the Sussex family, Rena and Harley riding Canadian ex-pat Tom for their unstinting support and Meltemi and Vila Rena for providing after match refreshment.
Exeter City Exiles: Le Milliere, Ahrends, Phillipos, Dyer, Rudawski, Flores, Shepherd, Vidal, Dimitrious, Guppy, Fitzgerald.