Tis: "They were the engine and the train of the team'
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale praised the performances of Robbie Simpson and Liam McAlinden as the Grecians beat Crewe Alexandra 4-0 at St James Park.
David Wheeler perhaps stole the headlines as he netted two goals to break a club record of scoring in seven consecutive matches, but it was the performance of two other forward players that caught Tis’ eye.
McAlinden was given his first start since a 4-1 win over Newport County on New Years’ Eve after Reuben Reid fell ill during the warm-up and Robbie Simpson came on as 30th minute substitute when Ollie Watkins picked up a calf injury.
Tis was pleased the duo performed so well as it highlighted the strength in depth the squad have and will need in the remaining months of the campaign.
“That was the big positive for me from today’s game - the performances of Liam McAlinden and Robbie Simpson,” said Tis.
“We discussed before the game what is going to happen. I said: ‘we can’t have it all our own way between now and the end of the season’, and low and behold Reuben Reid falls ill in the warm up and Ollie (Watkins) then gets injured, in the first 10 minutes.
“However, those two (Liam and Robbie) played so well. They were the engine and the train today. They are a different combination, but they didn’t half play well as a pair and I think we have learned something today. I would say they were the highlight of the performance today, so congratulations to them.”
Tis admitted that he was pleased with the 4-0 scoreline, but picked out a crucial moment in the match at 1-0 when Christy Pym made a great double stop to deny Alex Kiwomya and McAlinden followed it up by heading the ball off the line from the corner that followed.
“It was a tough performance today and, at the crucial moments, we did what we had to do,” he said. “We were not perfect in the first half by any means and they (Crewe) have got some good players.
“They could easily get their form going. I’m glad it wasn’t against us today, but the big moment is when Christy Pym makes a fantastic double save at 1-0 and then Liam McAlinden heads the ball off the goal line from the resulting corner with a brilliant diving header and that is why you bring everyone back at corners.
“The art is to keep the ball out of the back of the net and that is what Liam McAlinden did. I am really pleased, but we have got to get on to the next and get our heads firmly focused on the challenge ahead. We have got plenty of football left this season.”
Speaking about Wheeler breaking a club record by scoring in seven consecutive matches, Tis said: “I am delighted for him, but it is certainly not anywhere near high up on the list of our priorities.
“It is for supporters to enjoy; David has got to think about the win and about next week. I made sure nobody before the game talked about it. It wasn’t important to me.
“It is a great thing for everyone to talk about and celebrate, but not in our dressing room. Our dressing room is about winning, about keeping clean sheets. Whoever will to score will score. David, at the moment, is the one scoring so well done him but it is about winning.”