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Ten Years of Tis: The Defining Matches

26 June 2016

Relive a selection of the most memorable matches during Paul’s reign.

June 26th marks the ten year anniversary of Paul Tisdale’s appointment as City manager. The Grecians' chief is famously now only second to Arsene Wenger as the longest-serving boss in the country, and to honour this milestone we look back on some of the key events over the past decade at St James Park.

With the help of your responses on Facebook and Twitter, we reflect on a selection of the most memorable matches during Paul’s reign.

Oxford United 1–2 Exeter City (Phillips 39’, Stansfield 70’).
Kassam Stadium, May 8th 2007 

Exeter City produced a stirring comeback to see off Oxford United on penalties in the second leg of the Conference play-off semi-final.

The U’s had seized control of the tie with a 1-0 win in the first leg at St James Park, and City’s chances of booking a trip to Wembley looked even more bleak after Yemi Odubade doubled the host’s advantage with twenty-seven minutes on the clock. Paul Tisdale’s side, who had amassed twenty-nine points on the road throughout the course of the campaign, deservedly restored parity on the night just twelve minutes later as Lee Phillips guided home a low cross from the left-hand side.

City had the wind in their sails after the half-time interval, with John Challinor in particular looking threatening in the final third. It was to be one of Tisdale’s substitutions that would make the difference, though, as Adam Stansfield nestled a strike inside the far-post within fifteen minutes of his introduction to make it 2-2 on aggregate.

With the scores still deadlocked after extra-time, the Grecians left it to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to secure their place in the final. After a drawn-out series of spot-kicks in which City were the first side to miss, Steve Tully struck home the decisive penalty to send the Grecians to Wembley for the first time in their history.

The clash at the Kassam Stadium epitomised the never-say-die attitude that Tisdale had installed into his squad during his first year in the dugout – an attitude that would stand City in good stead in the seasons to come.  

City: Rice, Tully, Todd, Challinor, Edwards, Jones, Carlisle (Stansfield 56’), Gill, Taylor, Elam (Logan 60’), Phillips (Mackie 53’). Unused: Jones, Richardson.

Exeter City 1–2 Morecambe (Phillips 8’)
Wembley Stadium, 20th May 2007

It was Wembley heartbreak for Exeter City as a Danny Carlton strike with eight minutes remaining consigned the Grecians to defeat in a pulsating 2006/07 Conference play-off final.

Paul Tisdale’s side got off to a flying start in the capital by opening the scoring just seven minutes in. A well-worked free-kick opened up some space for Jon Challinor, who jinked past his marker and provided an inch-perfect cross for Phillips to head home. It was the City forward’s second goal in as many games having also found the net in the play-off semi-final at Oxford United twelve days earlier.

Morecambe remained resolute, though, and they were back on level terms shortly before the interval. Wayne Curtis’ miss from the penalty spot was a warning sign for City, and when Billy Jones’ miscued clearance saw the ball land at the feet of Gary Thompson, the forward made no mistake in finishing from just inside the area.

With extra-time looming neither side looked willing to pour men forward in search of a winner. A mistake or a moment of magic would be necessary to decide it, and in this case it was the latter. A hopeful ball forward found Carlton, and despite being outnumbered the striker shifted the ball onto his left foot and fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

The Grecians’ misery was compounded as Matt Gill became the first player to be sent off at the new Wembley Stadium after an altercation with Craig Stanley. It was to be a disappointing afternoon for Paul Tisdale and his players, but one which they would learn from. 

Paul Tisdale after the defeat in the 2006/07 play-off final: “The players have put in a great effort all season and to finish like that is frustrating. We tried our best, but in the end we have been beaten by a fantastic goal, and you have to put your hands up”.

City: Jones, Tully, Todd, Challinor, Edwards, Jones, Carlisle (Logan 53’), Taylor, Gill, Elam (Mackie 57’), Phillips (Stansfield 36’). Unused: Richardson, Buckle.

Torquay United 1-4 Exeter City (Harley 70’, Watson pen 81’, Logan 89’, Carlisle 90’)
Plainmoor, 5th May 2008
 

Video credit: 06marksr (YouTube)

Exeter City staged a scintillating second-half comeback against local rivals Torquay to book their place in the Conference play-off final for the second time in as many years. 

In a similar vein to the 2007 play-off semi-final against Oxford United, the Grecians faced an uphill battle having lost the first leg of the tie at St James Park. Torquay looked to have one foot in the final after Kevin Hill gave the hosts a two-goal cushion just before the hour-mark, but barely ten minutes later Ryan Harley fired through a sea of bodies to set up a grandstand finish at Plainmoor.
 
After a mix-up between Chris Zebroski and Torquay keeper Simon Rayner resulted in Richard Logan being brought down in the area, referee Chris Sarginson pointed to the spot. Ben Watson was the man tasked with levelling the scoring, and he duly delivered from twelve-yards out.

With extra time on the horizon and the momentum well and truly with Paul Tisdale’s side, Logan headed home Wayne Carlisle’s cross in the dying stages to send the City fans behind the goal into delirium. There was still time for Carlisle to turn provider to goal-scorer as he secured the Grecians place at Wembley with a well-taken effort.

City: Jones, Seaborne, Taylor, Friend (Carlisle 61’), Edwards, Moxey, Tully, Cozic (Harley 46’), Gill, Logan, Stansfield (Watson 61’). Unused: Marriott, Elam. 

If at first you don’t succeed… Exeter City 1–0 Cambridge United
Wembley Stadium, 18th May 2008

Exeter City fans made their way back up Wembley Way for the second time in as many seasons hoping to witness the fourth promotion in their side’s history.

The Grecians had done it the hard way in the semi-final tie against Torquay, but put in an assured performance in front of a crowd of over 42,000 at Wembley to return to the Football League after a five-year absence.

Paul Tisdale’s side dominated the first period and took a deserved lead on twenty-one minutes. Dean Moxey, who had looked threatening during the opening stages, whipped in an in-swinging corner from the right which the onrushing Rob Edwards stooped in to head home.

Cambridge looked invigorated after the break as they sought to get back on level terms. A Lee McEvilly header was headed off the line by George Friend, before Matt Taylor was forced into another goal-line clearance after Mark Peters’ poked effort from close-range.
 
Cambridge piled on the pressure in the closing stages as they looked to inflict more Wembley heartbreak on the Grecians, but in the end Paul Tisdale’s side made it to the final whistle with their lead intact to secure their place amongst the 72 Football League sides.

City: Jones, Seaborne, Tully, Taylor, Edwards, Friend, Moxey, Harley, Gill, Stansfield (Watson 84’), Logan. Unused: Marriott, Carlisle, Elam, Cozic.

 

Rotherham United 0-1 Exeter City
Don Valley Stadium, May 2nd 2009

Exeter City clinched a second successive promotion with victory at Rotherham United to earn a place in the third tier of English football.

In a first half that saw the Grecians spurn a number of chances, the Millers almost made City pay for their lack of killer instinct by opening the scoring first. Drewe Broughton lifted the ball over the on-rushing keeper Paul Jones, only to see his effort cleared by Troy Archibald-Henville.

Chances came and went for Fleetwood and Matt Taylor, before the decisive moment of the tie came with twenty minutes remaining as substitute Richard Logan rose at the far post to nod past Warrington.

The Grecians could have given themselves breathing space five minutes later when Dale Tongue was sent off for a trip on Craig McAllister, but Warrington was at hand to deny Fleetwood from twelve yards out.

The travelling contingent spilled onto the running track at the Don Valley Stadium after the full-time whistle in celebration of a momentous campaign. For Paul Tisdale it was three seasons, two promotions.

City: Jones, Tully, Taylor, Archibald-Henville, Edwards, Sercombe (Logan 61’), Cozic (McAllister 61’), Gill, Moxey, Harley, Fleetwood (Basham 85’). Unused: Marriott, Seaborne.

 
Video credit: GrecianVoices (YouTube)

Exeter City 2-0 Leeds United
St James Park, 16th January 2010



Video credit: LiamMancey (YouTube)

Ryan Harley scored a brace as Exeter City produced one of their finest performances of the season to defeat then-league leaders Leeds United.

In what was only Leeds’ second defeat of the campaign, Ryan Harley set the tone early doors by scoring after just four minutes. Steve Tully whipped in a fine cross from out wide, and the City midfielder made no mistake in heading past Casper Ankergren.

Leeds, who fielded the likes of Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, Robert Snodgrass and Jermaine Beckford improved after the break, with Beckford looking the most likely to make something happen in the final third.

But there was no stopping City in front of a full-house at St James Park as Ryan Harley netted his and the Grecians’ second of the afternoon to wrap up a famous three points.

Paul Tisdale after the victory over Leeds: "It was a wonderful day here. I think it was the first competitive full-house we've had since the Manchester United FA Cup game a few years ago. It went our way and we got a goal up, and the game plan was simple at that point, hang on and defend and try and catch them for a second. It's only three points but it feels like more than three points."

City: Jones, Tully, Duffy, Taylor, Golbourne, Edwards (Sercombe 74’), Russell, Harley, Cozic (Dunne 86’), Stansfield (Logan 89’), Stewart. Unused: Marriott, Saunders, McAllister, Fleetwood. 

Exeter City 2-1 Huddersfield
St James Park, 8th May 2010




Ryan Harley’s late strike ensured that City would remain in the third tier for another season after they beat Huddersfield Town in front of a packed house at St James Park.

The Grecians got off to the worst possible start as they looked to secure survival on the final day as, with only two minutes on the clock, Gary Roberts worked some space on the edge of the area and fired past Paul Jones.

But City didn’t let the occasion get to them, and they were back on level terms twenty minutes later after Matt Taylor headed home Ryan Harley’s corner.

After Jones saved well from Jordan Rhodes at the other end, it was Ryan Harley’s turn to switch from provider to scorer. With the Big Bank watching on expectedly, the midfielder arrowed a shot straight into the top-corner and past Alex Smithies to secure City another year in League 1.

Paul Tisdale on securing League 1 status on the final day of the campaign: "It's a relief and to leave it late on the last day of the season is a little too close for comfort but we made it. We've had a great season, and I can now look back on it and enjoy every minute. It's been a great experience and we've achieved today what we achieved on the last day of last year which is League Onestatus."

City: Jones, Tully, Duffy, Taylor, Golbourne, Friend, Harley, Cozic (Corr 62’), Sercombe, Stewart (Logan 63’), Taylor (Edwards 62’). Unused: Marriott, Dunne, Burnell, Fleetwood. 

Exeter City 5-1 Sheffield Wednesday
St James Park, 18th December 2010


A brace from Jamie Cureton helped Exeter City to a comprehensive victory over promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday.

The game was the only League 1 fixture of the day after a valiant effort from fans and ground staff to clear snow from the St James Park pitch, and Wednesday arrived in Devon knowing a win would send them to the top of the table. City were in no mood to play the accommodating hosts, though, as just before the half-hour mark Cureton’s strike from the edge of the area handed the Grecians a 1-0 lead.

After Cureton’s effort had been cancelled out by Tommy Miller, Liam Sercombe fired in a spectacular volley just before the hour mark to set the wheels in motion for a second-half rout. Scott Golbourne was next on the scoresheet just three minutes later, before Cureton netted his second of the day after seventy-two minutes.

John O’Flynn’s low drive with two minutes to spare rounded off an emphatic victory, and one which put City within a point of the play-off positions.
 
Paul Tisdale on the emphatic victory over Sheffield Wednesday: "It was a great day. I've been questioned a number of times as to why I've stayed at Exeter and today was a perfect example of why. I only relaxed once we'd scored our fifth, that's my nature as you never know what can happen. We kept our tempo high and it was a really professional, good performance and I'm more than happy with the way the team have played."

City: Krysiak, Tully, Duffy, Taylor, Golbourne, Jones, Harley (Thomson 89’), Noble (Dunne 46’), Sercombe, Cureton, Logan (O’Flynn 57’). Unused: Jones, Edwards, Cozic, Nardiello.

Charlton Athletic 1-3 Exeter City
The Valley, 19th February 2011


Three second-half goals handed Exeter City a surprise win at play-off chasing Charlton Athletic in front of a crowd just shy of 25,000. 

After what Paul Tisdale described as a “turbulent few weeks” for the Club following three home losses, City responded emphatically with a superb showing at the Valley.

Liam Sercombe crashed home the opening goal on sixty-four minutes to begin a twenty-minute bombardment of the Addicks defence.
 
John O’Flynn was next in on the act after the striker intercepted Gary Doherty’s header back to keeper Rob Elliot and tapped into an empty net.

The Grecians added a third six minutes from time after Ryan Harley converted from the spot. Bradley Wright-Phillips pulled one back for the hosts two minutes later, but it proved only a consolation as City held out for an impressive victory.
 
City: Hamer, Tully, Duffy (Sercombe 11’), Archibald-Henville, Taylor, Golbourne, Dunne (Cozic 89’), Harley, Noble, Cureton, O’Flynn (Logan 89’). Unused: Krysiak, Edwards, Jones, Stewart.  

Exeter City 2-2 Liverpool
St James Park, 8th January 2016

Exeter City secured an FA Cup Third Round replay at Anfield after holding Premier League Liverpool to a thrilling 2-2 draw at St James Park.

With the anticipation having been building for nigh-on six weeks since the Third Round draw, a capacity crowd was in attendance at St James Park for the visit of the seven-time winners of the competition.
 
It was a first FA Cup experience for Jurgen Klopp, and the magic of the Cup was in full swing when his pre-match interviews were carried out in the club's tea room. City boss Paul Tisdale provided his counterpart with a gift as the sides made their way out onto the field.

With St James Park full to the rafters and absolutely rocking, the place nearly fell down when Jamie Reid centred for Tom Nichols to fire City in front just over ten minutes in. Songs for Stanno rang out as the stadium bounced, but unfortunately it was a lead that was only to last for a few minutes, as Jerome Sinclair took advantage of a mistake in the City backline to fire past Bobby Olejnik.

David Noble had a wonderful chance to put City in front once again, but could only fire over from Christian Ribeiro's cross. But City would end the half with the advantage after a classic moment in front of the cameras, as Lee Holmes whipped a beautiful corner straight in past Adam Bodgan.

Both sides returned to the pitch for the second half to a loud reception, but it was clearly the home side that enjoyed the more positive one. Bobby Olejnik was crucial in keeping City in front, saving from Christian Benteke's header, but could do nothing to stop Brad Smith from rifling in an equaliser with just over fifteen minutes to go. City picked it up from there; the introductions of Joel Grant and Matt Oakley helping to retain some possession, and they did well to limit their visitors to half-chances.

But besides the header from Benteke early in the second period, City were not tested often enough by the Premier League side for the visitors to overcome their plucky, relentless hosts.

For the first time in their history, Exeter City avoided defeat against Liverpool as they secured a lucrative replay at Anfield. 

City: Olejnik, Woodman, Ribeiro (Davies 66’), Moore-Taylor, Tillson, Brown, Noble (Oakley 62’), Holmes (Grant 84’), Nicholls, Reid, Nichols. Unused: Hamon, McAllister, Morrison, Hoskins.
 

Video credit: FATV (YouTube)

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