Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale said he was proud of his side’s second-half performance as they exited the Emirates FA Cup at the third round stage against West Bromwich Albion.
The Premier League side dominated the first-half proceedings, taking the lead in the opening minute through Salamon Rondon and then doubling their advantage through Jay Rodriguez.
They almost added a third when James McLean was tripped in the area, but Christy Pym saved Rodriguez’ penalty and then, just before half-time, Jayden Stockley hit the base of the post from close range after Ben Foster had spilled a shot into his path.
Tis admitted a goal at that stage would have made a big difference – especially when you take into account how well City player after the break.
“That (goal) would have made a big difference,” he said. “I am disappointed in the way we competed for that first 40 minutes, despite all the preparation and intent we hoped for.
“However, even at 2-0 if you score one goal, we all know one can become two. And the way we played in the second half, all it needed was a goal. It needed a goal and then it was interesting. It was interesting enough at 2-0, but at 2-1 it would have been a very different final part of the game.”
“Three-nil and the game would have been over,” added Tis, recalling Rodriguez' missed penalty.
“However, at 2-0 we were still in it and then we needed to score a goal and it all changes.
“However, I think Jayden was probably a little bit surprised that the ball landed at him and he contrived to miss it but I thought we did really well second half.
“In some ways it makes you feel worse about the first half because we played so well in the second half. We backed ourselves. The players had some freedom about the way they played.
“They had more purpose and flow about the way they played and I think we shaded the second half. I hope I am not looking at it through rose-tinted glasses but I think we shaded the second half.”
City did create a number of chances in the second half and were unfortunate not to pull a goal back. So, what did Tis put the improvement down to second-half?
“It was about having the players connected and close and there being no big gaps in the team,” he said. “There were changes at half-time in terms of the spaces we covered.
“Lee (Holmes) added to that. He has struggled all week. He was in my mind to start but just hadn’t trained all week, but he made a big difference. In fact, all the subs did. Lloyd James came on and played particularly well also.
“I think the second half performance gives everybody a lot of confidence and gives us a real fillip going into what is now going to be, hopefully, a promotion push. However, somehow it makes that first half performance that little bit more disappointing.”
Asked if he was proud of the second half display, Tis added: “Yes, but it is about the result and we thought we had a chance today.
“Whether that is right or wrong you go into the game and you have to believe that otherwise what is the point in coming to work all week?
"So we believed we had a chance and I think our final 45 minutes showed that we were correct to think that. We did have a chance, but the game is gone and we have lost 2-0. We really wanted to win the game, but there is a lot to be positive about.”