Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale described his side’s 1-0 victory over Port Vale as an ugly victory as the players put their bodies on the line to keep a clean sheet.
The Grecians took the lead midway through the first half when a nice turn by Ryan Harley on the left wing created a yard of room for him to cross and his delivery was turned home by young centre-back Jordan Storey.
It was a rare moment of attacking quality on a heavy and bobbly pitch at Port Vale and City were indebted to a couple of good saves from Christy Pym and a goal-line clearance from Jake Taylor for making sure the three points returned to Devon.
“I’m delighted,” said Tis. “It was a pretty ugly game all round, really, from our point of view, but we nicked a goal from a set piece and we hung on.
“It wasn’t our intention before the game but it was a very, very energy sapping pitch and I can see how the games are so difficult for the Port Vale side to play every week.
“It’s very slow and arduous and I think the game just settled into a rhythm where we were defending our back line, the ball was getting hit to the back post, we’d defend, come out with it and try to get a second.
“Then we’d go back, they’d hit it to the back post and that was the rhythm to it. That lasted for about an hour and we managed to get over the line.”
Storey making only his fourth start for the Grecians this season was superb at the back heading plenty of balls out of the area. Asked what was the difference between the two sides, Tis added: “We managed to score and they didn’t, it’s pretty simple.
“Is that lucky, is that not? I’d like to think our clean sheet was a lot of application and a lot of detail, we defended lots of set pieces and it’s not luck when you’re standing in the right place and your players do the right thing.
“It’s very hard to get a goal back when you’re a goal down at home and a side defends in such a focused manner as we did.
“We’ve been there, the Port Vale game at home was just the same – they scored and we did all the pushing and couldn’t get a goal. It was a copy of that, really.
“We were tired and both centre-backs who played on Saturday were missing. So we had the problems of selection but we’ve won three of our last four away games now and it was a big thing we thought we needed improve going into the final quarter of the season.
“It looks like we’re doing it, we’ve won all those games by a goal and we’ve had to defend really, really tightly.”