Exeter City manager Matt Taylor was left frustrated as his side fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Crawley Town in Sky Bet League Two.
The Grecians fell two goals behind before Ryan Bowman levelled in the second half, but City then conceded another when they were caught on the counter-attack as Town took the game away from the home side.
Following the match, Matt said: “We gave them the first goal in terms of the mistake. Some of those players have been outstanding for us this season. Jake (Taylor) has made a mistake, an honest one, and we’ve not quite reacted off the back of that.
“We just needed to settle ourselves down, the second goal was the most disappointing one for me, again it’s a direct ball into our back line.”
Despite falling behind, the Grecians created a host of chances with Hiram Boateng hitting the crossbar and had a number of shots blocked and saved throughout.
Matt continued: “For the 10 minutes before and after half-time I can’t understand how we didn’t score more than one goal in that period. I said in the week that we need to score the easy goals, the tap ins. We can’t miss open goals; we’ve got to work the keeper more than we did in that 10-minute period leading up until half-time.
“I gave them a clear structure after half-time, they believed in it and carried it out for that first 10 minutes in the second period and we could have scored more than one goal. Then another mistake when we were in possession where we didn’t defend that counter-attack well enough, and then it’s another mountain climb.
“I believed we could do it, but the panic started to set into the group, they started doing, not their own thing, but stick to the plan. We gave them a clear direction, absolutely clear, and like I say, for the first 15 minutes of that second half they executed that. A goal affects this group of players, I’ve got to be honest there’s a weakness about us, the first goal affected us, and we’ve seen it time and time again, especially at home. When we concede a goal, we go into our shell a little bit and take the wrong option. As much as you can help them from the side of the pitch, they’re the ones who have to stand up and take responsibility. We’re never going to be always in the lead at home, we might go behind, and our captain made a little mistake today, but the group needed to come together at that moment. We didn’t quite do that, and we paid the price for it.”
The City manager also wants his side to be more ruthless in front of goal going forward having created a number of chances at goal.
“We created a lot of chances, but you don’t deserve to win a game if, and I give my defence enough stick, you can’t miss chances like that at the other end of the pitch,” said Matt.
“We created time and time again, that’s the most disappointing thing, I’ve spoken enough about our defenders and our weaknesses at times. There were probably two mistakes out there in terms of the first and third goal, but the rest of the group have to take responsibility. If you’re on the pitch to score goals, then score the easy goals as well. We all talk about the goals in previous weeks and the goal of the season campaign, you want numbers, you want stats to back up yourself as a player. That’s why I’m disappointed today because that game was there for us, mistakes happen in football but we’re more than good enough to get back into that game. They believed in it for a short period of time, the moment the goals kept affecting them then they came off the script.”
The game featured a number of stoppages with Crawley keen to slow the game down to hold onto their advantage. Despite that frustration, Matt says that’s exactly what he expected as the away side tried to cling onto all three points.
He continued: “It’s not right, and the referee needs to be strong to do something about it. It’s frustrating because we’re the home team and want to get on the front foot and get the ball and play but the opposition do what’s needed. That group in there has got to understand what it takes to win games of football, and that’s part and parcel of it.
“We won’t waste time like Crawley did today, and like other teams do, but because they were two goals ahead, they’ve earned the right to do that. It’s certainly not right and the officials have to be stronger, but my group has got to be better than that.”
The Grecians will now turn their attentions to Easter Monday’s match with Stevenage at the Lamex stadium, and despite the tough trip, the City manager believes his side have it in them to bounce back.
“There are some tired bodies, Pierce looked like he was struggling for the last 10 or 15 minutes,” said Matt. “I had to put the subs on, I had to put bodies on the pitch who might have scored us a goal. We’ve got to dust ourselves down, we can only look at ourselves on the back of today, that’s the frustrating thing because we were more than good enough to get something out of the game. We’re good enough to go and get something out of the game on Monday, but it’s put more pressure on ourselves.”
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