Exeter City manager Matt Taylor was delighted with his side’s display as they beat Oldham Athletic 1-0 with a goal from Ryan Bowman to keep up hopes of a place in the play-offs.
The Grecians won it in the 79th minute when the City forward headed home from close range, and the side held out to claim an important three points.
Following the match, the City boss said: “It was difficult conditions, it sounds crazy to say that when it’s the second to last game of the season, it’s usually hot, the pitches are rock hard and there’s no wind, it was a bit like winter football at times today.
“It affected both teams, certainly in the first half, it was really gusty and difficult conditions. It was two good teams going at each other in that first period, but we felt the game would open up at some stage, and at half-time our instructions were clear that, when it does open up, we’ve got to hurt them.
“We created a lot of chances in that second period and it was a matter of time. It’s about holding your nerve; people will ask about changes in that second period because we needed to score. We were creating chances, we just needed to put one of them away. Luckily, it’s fallen to Ryan who is in good goal scoring form at the moment.
“We asked a lot of questions of their goalkeeper and their back line in the second period, but Christy has made some good saves in the first half and we had to stay in the game and tough it out which we’ve not done at home in recent weeks. I was really pleased with that first period, we played well in the second half and I felt we deserved the win.”
The first half saw both sides battle the conditions as they struggled to come to terms with the wind, and Matt felt his side did well to battle and keep the score 0-0 at half-time.
He explained: “There was no real space on the pitch, and when there’s no space on the pitch in those conditions it’s going to be messy. It was disjointed and there were delays in the match as well.
“All week we felt we had to be in it when it opened up and you saw Hiram (Boateng), Lee (Martin) and Randell (Williams) getting on the ball more and more in that second period and Ryan (Bowman) was a handful. A clean sheet is absolutely key, I’ve mentioned earlier on that holding your nerve is key in these moments. I’ve not checked the results elsewhere but all we can do is concentrate on ourselves. That’s two good performances on the bounce.”
City striker Ryan Bowman put in another battling display, which was capped off with the all-important goal as he netted his fifth for the club.
On his striker, Matt said: “Ryan worked them hard, he’s in goal scoring form. Randell added a bit of physicality in terms of his sprints and leaps at times. It’s another attribute that we need to work to, if we can cross the ball and you’ve not only got Ryan to head it and you’ve got Randell as well.
“All round it was a good display, I’ve spoken about the nerves and anxiety at the Park, and the longer the game is at 0-0 the more you’ve got to hold your nerve as players and staff included and I felt we did that today.”
Christy Pym won man of the match at St James Park for some important saves throughout, and Matt felt the saves came at key times.
He continued: “He made some good saves in the first half; it was a difficult day for defending. That’s what he’s there to do, make saves at important moments, I was really pleased we toughed it out first half because I knew that we’d get opportunities."
The Grecians also lost Nicky Law to a first half injury, and it’s something the Grecians’ boss will assess ahead of the final match of the season at Forest Green Rovers, where City’s end of season play-off hopes will be determined.
Matt said: “We’re disappointed to lose Nicky, he’s been an influential player for us this season, but it was great to see Hiram step into that position. It looked like a pretty bad dead leg, he got an early whack on it and another in the same one. Dead legs are difficult ones, but we’ll see how he is, he’s an important body and it shows how important the squad is.
“When I go back in, I’ll look at the results, all we can do is affect ourselves. We’ll be working hard and be ready for Forest Green.”
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