Exeter City manager Matt Taylor praised his side’s second half display but was frustrated with how the Grecians gave themselves too much to do to get back into the match as they fell to a 3-2 defeat against Blackpool.
Three goals in the first 45 minutes from Joe Dodoo, Mark Cullen and Harry Pritchard gave the Tangerines a commanding lead going into the break, but a spirited second half display from City saw them pull two goals back through Jordan Tillson and Tristan Abrahams, but ultimately, they were unable to find a third as they exited the Emirates FA Cup.
When asked about his take on the match, Matt said: “Obviously, you don’t want to lose any game of football. The three goals in quick succession in that 30-35-minute spell in the first half just took us out the game completely.
“No matter how well we played in the second half, the three goals kill you, and it’s a very rare occasion that you get back in the game from 3-0 down. Having said that, the second half performance was simple and basic, but it had a purpose about it. Some of the players stood up and played well in that second half, it’s not easy to do that when you’re 3-0 down, but you throw caution to the wind in some aspects of your play.
“The most important thing is to give yourself a chance, and I said it last week in terms of the goals conceded, against a good team like Blackpool. You wouldn’t even say they were clear cut opportunities, but we have to defend our box better than we showed today.”
Matt was also disappointed in the manner that City conceded the goals. He continued: “Part of it is luck, part of it is good from the opposition, and part of it is poor from us. It can be a combination of things.
“It felt like every opportunity that they had, of which some of them we were in control, certainly the third goal we had the ball, then they counter-attacked and broke on us. In terms of the first half performance, the more we conceded the more we opened ourselves up.
“I just needed the senior players to drag them in, get tight, and compact and get to half-time at 2-0, even better 1-0, let alone 3-0. That’s disappointing, it really is, but then you give them a structure in the second half, the structure we try and give them week in, week out, and then they go and play like that in the second half which is even more frustrating to see.”
Tactically Matt felt his side struggled to retain possession high up the pitch in the first half but credited his players with their second half response as they created chances for the likes of Jayden Stockley and Tristan Abrahams.
Matt said: “We were without some attacking players who can take the ball high as we possibly can, so I was looking at Archie Collins and Jake Taylor or Nicky Law to travel with the ball, get to the byline and then at least we can deliver from further up the pitch and get a bit of field position.
“First half we didn’t have any intent in us to take the ball high up the pitch, even if it isn’t in their game, I know we are at home and without Lee Martin and Chio (Chiedozie Ogbene) in terms of players that naturally do that, but if you play a certain position on the pitch you have to take the ball up the pitch, get it close to their goal and get it away from ours.
“Second half they did that, they did the basics really well and just covered the areas of the pitch and created enough chances to get back into a normal game of football, but when you’re 3-0 down you’ve got no chance.
City’s injury list also grew heavier with Pierce Sweeney having to come off in the second half with a back problem, and Lee Martin also sat out of the game through injury. But despite missing a host of key personnel, Matt is pleased to have Jimmy Oates back fit as his side set their sights on Checkatrade Trophy action against Bristol Rovers.
“Lee Martin is injured, and Pierce has hurt his back, which we’ll assess in the week,” explained Matt.
“They keep coming, but Jimmy Oates is more than capable of fitting in there, and obviously Dara O’Shea came in today. There’re boys carrying niggles but it’s onto Tuesday now, some of these players need to play in that game to get a bit of confidence back and a bit of rhythm in terms of a decent structure to a game.
“When it’s not going right we need to rely on the basics and do the simple things well, be in the right position in the right time, and we’ll use that for Tuesday as best we possibly can and then all of a sudden Northampton comes around pretty quick.”