Exeter City manager Matt Taylor was pleased with his side as they came out on top in a 3-2 win over Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park.
The Grecians fell behind on two occasions after Sam Surridge and Callum Lang struck for the home side, but a Jayden Stockley hat-trick was enough to ensure City returned to Devon with maximum points.
Following the match, Matt said: “It was tough to watch at times, but also so pleasing to come out on top. It was a real good game of football in terms of the attacking football on show, but I’ve got to question some of the defensive side of it.
“We scored three really good goals, and when you score three goals away from home you expect it to be more comfortable. To come from behind twice shows real character, but I felt we had that attacking threat after the first 15 minutes and we looked like we could create opportunities on a regular basis.
“We had to keep it tight at the back, but it was so disappointing to concede straight after half-time having given them a little bit about the amount of chances that Oldham got in the first half, but the guts and character, and for the last half an hour we were the better team. There were some questionable penalty appeals from the opposition which, I’ve spoken about in the past that we’ve not had too much luck recently, we had a bit last weekend and maybe it’s just starting to turn in our favour.”
With City scoring three goals on the road, Matt was delighted with the attacking performance for the Grecians, who created a number of good opportunities, particularly in the second half.
Matt continued: “We’ve got good attacking players, we felt there was space in front of them and down the sides and we just needed to get our good players on the ball in those areas then we would create.
“Jayden was in the right place on all three occasions to finish, I’m delighted for him that he got his hat-trick, but it was a real team performance today.”
Matt also praised the performances of youngsters Archie Collins and Dara O’Shea having turned out battling displays against Oldham. And the City boss believes they will only learn from the experience they’re getting in the City first team.
Matt said “We’ve got Dara O’Shea and Archie Collins, two 19-year-olds, one at centre half and one in centre midfield, and that was a tough, physical, encounter and they’ve learned a lot again today and they’ll be better for it.
“We’re building, we’ve still got a way to go, I’ve still got to ask for more from the group, certainly defensively, we can’t keep giving cheap goals away because I say every week how hard we have to work to score. That, hopefully, was a reward for those fans for sticking with us over the last six to eight weeks away from home, they’ve come a long way today and hopefully it was an early Christmas present.”
Matt was forced to make tactical changes to see the Grecians through the match, especially with Oldham applying a great deal of pressure in the first period of the game.
“We were under severe pressure to start with and we went 1-0 down early and I didn’t want to go 2-0 down in the first half,” explained Matt. “We put Lee (Martin) on the left and put another body in midfield to get bodies closer to our centre halves and full backs who were having a difficult time, certainly in that first half.
“Full credit to Oldham, they’ve got some good players, the lad Surridge looked a real handful in that game today. You put new plans in place at half-time and then you concede straight away and then you’ve got to change again. We got Holmesy (Lee Holmes) in space, not so much in wide areas but also central today he really hurt the opposition.
“Chio’s (Chiedozie Ogbene) pace at the end gave us an outlet but once we conceded the second, we had a real desire not to concede a third. Bodies on the line, in the way of balls, in the right position at the right time. There’s still a lot of work to do to improve this team but we showed today the quality that we’ve got, we had a bit more confidence off the back of last week in terms of shifting the ball and if we can get the ball in the final third on a regular basis then we’re going to create chances."
The Grecians will now turn their attentions to Yeovil Town on Boxing Day, and after coming through a difficult run and now putting back-to-back wins together, Matt believes if they can continue this run of form then City could well climb further in the table.
He said: “Football changes so quickly, even in the run of results that we had, we felt that on a couple of occasions we were close to picking up maximum points. If you go on a run at any stage of the season, then all of a sudden you bounce up the league. We didn’t look too much into the poor run of form, we were hurt by injuries and illness at times, but also form plays a part.”
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.