Exeter City manager Matt Taylor was pleased with his side’s performance as they returned to winning ways against Crewe Alexandra at St James Park.
Lee Martin’s stunning effort was the difference on the scoresheet, but it was a display which saw the Grecians create a number of good chances, and they defended well to claim all three points.
There were question marks ahead of kick-off as to whether the game would go ahead, but after a 13:45 pitch inspection, the referee deemed the pitch playable despite a fair bit of surface water.
On the result, Matt said: “It was a pleasing display. A performance of honesty and competing, I thought we were in the right place at the right time.
“It was on a difficult pitch, full credit to the ground staff and everyone involved with the club to get the game on. Crewe wanted the game on as much as we did. It wasn’t an ugly 1-0, I thought we merited those three points, without a doubt, but we had to ride our luck in terms of that chance at the end (Shaun Miller hitting the crossbar.)
“That’s probably that bit of luck that hasn’t gone our way in recent weeks, but we deserved it on the back of our honesty in our display, so I was delighted.”
“We were solid at the back, apart from their one-v-one, Christy has not had a save to make so we limited them to half chances, if any. We looked like a team that were compact and connected with a threat about us as well. Jayden (Stockley) led the line really well.
Matt also praised the performance of Lee Martin, who netted his first goal for the club in excellent style, and the City boss hopes that the goal can help him kick on for the rest of the season.
He continued: “Lee Martin was everywhere, all energy, and his goal was a reward for himself on the back of his performance. I was delighted with him today, we had to ask for something to hold onto at the start of the week and I said about energy to the group on Tuesday.
“Lee is a player with an abundance of energy and that’s why I selected him today. Sometimes when you’re a little bit low on confidence you need something to hold on to and Lee did that for us today.
“It was a great goal, on his weaker foot, I was probably as surprised as anyone when it went in but, like I say, he had a few half chances today and he’s had chances since he’s signed for the club, but it’s not quite gone his way. Hopefully that will be the foothold for him to go on and keep scoring goals, keep creating and keep putting in a performance like he did today.
“That performance wasn’t so much based on quality, but it was based on that energy that we speak about and the work rate, and that was throughout the team today. I made a couple of big decisions in terms of personnel today and I thought some of the boys who came into the team really stood up.
With concern over the match going ahead due to the weather, Matt revealed how he and Crewe manager, David Artell, were keen for the game to go ahead in the conditions, and the City manager also praised the likes of Archie Collins and Dara O’Shea for their performances in tough conditions.
The City boss said: “We wanted the game to be on, it would have been a real shame for the supporters and Crewe for that game to have been called off. The pitch was playable, I didn’t think it affected it too much, there were a few comedy moments in the first half, but I thought we played pretty good football at times.
"Archie Collins came into the side, a young lad, but he anchored that midfield really well, he was good in possession and honest out of possession as well and he competed. He’ll still make mistakes, you probably saw today that he wasn’t perfect, but he deserved his 90 minutes, he was cramping up at the end, but I didn’t want to make too many changes towards the end because it was such a tight game.
“Dara O’Shea played as a right centre back and won man of the match. He epitomised what we were about today, he was all out, defending and quick to the ball and made first contact and was in the right position at the right time, and that fed through the team.”
The win now takes the Grecians back to seventh in Sky Bet League Two, and despite being on a difficult run ahead of today’s match, Matt explained he and his side still have belief in themselves and they are optimistic about what the rest of the season will bring.
Matt continued: “Confidence is a strange word in football, you want something to hold on to. I’ve never lost belief in this group and the players haven’t lost belief. Results haven’t gone our way, we know that, and there’s times where we have got to improve but we’re still a new team still learning about each other.
“We’re looking forward to the Christmas period, we hope to strengthen the squad come January, but also we’ve got good injured players coming back into the fold as well. We’re only going to get stronger, I’m adamant of that in terms of the personnel we’ve got in the group. I need everyone to keep staying honest throughout the week, we’ve trained well for two weeks now, we didn’t get the result at Bury but there’s been an intent and desire about us. Three points is three points and we’re delighted.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.