Exeter City manager Matt Taylor praised his side’s performance as the Grecians bounced back from midweek defeat with a 2-0 win over Port Vale.
A second minute penalty from Nicky Law and a superb volley from Hiram Boateng was the difference as City turned out a positive display which keeps them within the play-off places in Sky Bet League Two.
Following the win, Matt explained: “It was a comprehensive 2-0 victory. The foundations were there from start to finish; we did the basics really well. We competed and we were quick to the ball and put pressure on the ball and opposition at every opportunity and then that little bit of quality in the second half from Hiram really showed.
“I felt we created chances all through the afternoon, it was pleasing to score so early and be on the right side of a refereeing decision in terms of the penalty and it settles everyone down when you’re at home and takes any anxiety out of the game. It went pretty well in terms of that first half, but I still felt we could’ve gone in a 2-0 or 3-0 up because we worked their goal, their keeper and their centre halves, I thought Ryan Bowman was a real handful today. Hiram, you could probably see, he was slightly fatigued at times, but he still had that little bit of quality in him. The foundations were there from the back boys and Christy and all through the team.”
The penalty was given after Kyle Howkins appeared to have hold of Ryan Bowman as the City striker challenged for the ball, and Matt believes it was the right decision to award a penalty.
“He was wrestling him, and we’ve had some soft ones against us in recent weeks to say the least,” said Matt. “You don’t like decisions to go against a team, but it looked like a penalty, it looked like he was wrestling Ryan and, like I say, they couldn’t quite get to grips with him all afternoon, and finally we put a penalty away. Nicky’s got that bit of class about him and he’s confident in front of goal at the moment We created chances in that first half and Christy hasn’t been overworked in terms of saves. It shows it was a solid performance, it wasn’t particularly pretty but it was certainly effective.”
The City manager also praised the solo effort of Hiram Boateng after he produced a stunning piece of solo skill to put the Grecians 2-0 up.
Matt continued: “I was about to bring him off! He did a good job today, I still want more from him because he looked a bit leggy at times and his reactions weren’t quite as sharp as they could be, but he’s got that little bit of quality to chest it, flick it, and volley it in. Hopefully the fans will talk about that for a long time. We’ve scored some pretty good goals at the Park this season and that might just top the rest of them.”
As well as impressing going forward, City were also strong in defence with Dara O’Shea partnering Troy Brown alongside fullbacks Pierce Sweeney and Craig Woodman.
On his defence, Matt was pleased with their display, he said: “Dara came back into it, he needed a little rest to get himself physically and mentally right, and it was a big ask for Troy playing his third game in a week. I chose Troy and Dara’s physicality over Deano (Dean Moxey) today, but he’s got a big part to play in the next four games. I was pleased, Woody (Craig Woodman) defended well and Pierce too. That was a solid back four as well, Jake (Taylor) and Archie (Collins), that’s a solid six who can stand up to a lot of physical play. I don’t see Crawley being too dissimilar, I see us playing at a similar sort of style, but certainly we were effective today which was the most pleasing thing.”
Craig Woodman played his third game in a week, and despite being 36, the City boss says the defender just keeps getting better.
Matt said: “Despite his age, I’ll talk to him about the booking because you don’t want your players to get booked for not a tackle, especially when you’re defending and then it puts you on edge.
“Archie was booked for a tackle and then you could see in the second half that he couldn’t quite commit to a couple of tackles. Woody has got all the experience, he’s getting better with age, I know it sounds stupid but three games in a week is one hell of an ask. We lost Kane Wilson on Thursday with an injury so that puts extra pressure in terms of that back five in terms of personnel. I can’t speak highly enough of him; he comes in and does his work and that’s credit to him.”
The Grecians will now turn their attentions to Good Friday when they welcome Crawley Town to St James Park and Matt believes they could prove a similar sort of test to the Valiants.
He continued: “A lot was made of Tuesday and we were disappointed in the second half, despite playing so well in the first half. It’s one game at a time, we won’t get too high on the back of this, and I just spoke to the players in terms of looking after themselves because some of them need a little break in terms of the next 24-48 hours but we’ve got to train well this week and hit Friday and it will be two games in four days. Friday is an important one and today the fans, I don’t think it was a particularly big crowd, but they got behind us. We fed off them at times and the early penalty just gives everyone a bit of a boost, it’s something we try and do in every home game.”
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