Exeter City manager Matt Taylor was left frustrated by his side’s first half display as they fell to a 2-0 defeat away from home against Bury.
The Grecians struggled to get going in the opening 45 minutes and fell behind to a strike from Jay O’Shea on 39 minutes as Bury took the lead. After the break, though, City created a number of chances to draw level, the best of which came when Jayden Stockley had his penalty saved.
As Taylor’s side pushed to find a goal, they then found themselves 2-0 down when Byron Moore broke through the middle to double the home side’s lead and take the game away from City.
After the match, Matt said: “We had opportunities in that second half. In the first half, full credit to Bury, they pinned us back and put us under pressure. Our ball retention in the first half was poor which allowed them to do that time and time again and they got the breakthrough.
“In the second half we demanded more of our quality and we showed it. We got enough good opportunities to get back in that game, the penalty is a big moment and then the second goal, when you’re on the front foot and playing well, is a goal that I’ve spoken about too many times this season. One direct kick from their goalkeeper into our back line, not winning the first contact clean enough, and then they’re straight into our back line. It’s something we’re trying to address, personnel wise, I have to keep looking at that because, like I said, that’s happened too many times this season and it’s a weakness that we’ve got in our team at the moment.
“Second half, when we kept the ball and worked our way up the pitch, we had a threat about us. Even the penalty aside, the ball bouncing around and Jayden had a couple of opportunities, Chio (Chiedozie Ogbene) and Lee Holmes as well. It’s what football is all about, maybe a bit of luck in terms of the keeper has made a good save, but it’s so disappointing because when you play like we showed in the second half then you give yourself a chance, but when you play like we did in the first half then I’m not too sure you give yourself a chance.”
The Grecians have a hit a difficult run of late, with this loss coming after a defeat at home to Macclesfield Town last week. The City manager believes that the side are struggling with confidence but must keep the belief in themselves as they look ahead to Crewe Alexandra next weekend.
Matt continued: “This group of players know how well they can play, confidence wise they’ve lost a bit of confidence. Belief, hopefully they’re not losing belief in themselves as much as anything, because you come in at half time and they are flat and it’s only them who can affect it.
“You can’t change the personnel in terms of unbelievable ball players sprouting out from nowhere, so they’ve just got to have more confidence in using that ball, and we did that in the second half, and we got close to the rewards from it. You should be back in the game at 1-1 and then it’s anyone’s game. Like I say, still with a long period of time to play in that second half, the second goal has absolutely killed us.”
Jayden’s penalty save was also the fourth penalty kick that City have failed to convert this season, a subject that the manager believes he may have to reassess.
“You can practice them (penalties) all day long, and credit to their keeper because it’s a good save, but you back your top scorer to score the penalty or you take your leading penalty taker to take the pens and score them,” explained Matt.
“We’ll keep searching for answers, and in all honesty, next on the list will possibly be a midfielder. We’re not missing the target too often, the keepers are making saves, and that’s football at the moment and certainly football for us in terms of if that goes in you think we’ve got a chance of winning the game.
“It doesn’t go in and then we miss the next few chances and to concede a second goal like we did, and like I said, that is a goal we’ve conceded too often this season which is a real disappointing factor from our point of view. I’ll look at that in terms of personnel for next weekend. The last 10 minutes aren’t irrelevant, but they didn’t reflect what that second half was all about which was us on the front foot and close to their goal.”
Despite the difficult run, Matt also insisted that he believes in his players, but will also looked to strengthen his side in the January transfer window next month.
He said: “They’re good players, I’ve got no doubt about this group, and I’m looking forward to a January window in terms of strengthening because I’ve identified those areas. We know where we are weak at the moment and we’ll certainly build on that so we’re looking forward to the next couple of months, the players have to stick together like they have done, like they did in the second half, and everyone has to stay with us as well.”
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.