Exeter City manager Matt Taylor said his side struggled to create enough clear-cut opportunities as the Grecians fell to a narrow defeat against Bury.
In a game of few attempts on goal for either side, it was the visitors who came away with the three points when Nicky Maynard scored from close range in the second half. Despite a positive first period, with Ryan Bowman going close with a header, the Grecians were unable to make the most of any dominant play they had.
Following the match, Matt said: “The result speaks for itself. They scored the all-important goal when it was really in the balance, it was fine margins in that game, and they broke away and got the goal and we weren’t able to get back in the game on the back of that.
“For long periods of that game we were probably the more dominant team, on the front foot, without threatening their goal enough. If I’ve got a criticism of the boys today it was that we didn’t work their keeper or their back three enough.
“Ryan Bowman had a header in the first half which the keeper saved but apart from that we almost cancelled each other out. Two good teams their today, which is why it’s so disappointing that it’s come down to a break of the ball in the midfield and a ricochet to finish the move in terms of their goal. In terms of the effort of the boys, I can’t fault it, but the actual quality, we certainly lacked in the second half in terms of delivery into dangerous areas.”
In a game of fine margins, City defended well for much of the 90 minutes, but were caught out when a Bury break away managed to get behind the City back line before Maynard scored the winner.
Matt continued: “We defended well but it was going to be something like that where the ball breaks and Woody (Craig Woodman) has gone to press and left a space in behind him. Even the actual finish, Archie (Collins) has got half a chance to clear it and it ricochets off the lad. We can say we’re unlucky but I’m certainly not making that excuse today.
“That’s a sign of a good team, in terms of what Bury did to us today, they were solid at the back and had pace and power at the top end of the pitch and also players that could carry the ball up the pitch. First half we got into some fantastic positions and my half-time team talk was all about how we were going to utilise those positions into goal scoring opportunities. Second half we didn’t really get into those positions enough and we lost a bit of momentum.”
Matt also said that he was pleased with the performance of Ryan Bowman, who made his first start at St James Park. The forward had a couple of headers, one in each half, well saved by Joe Murphy in the Bury goal.
On the striker, Matt explained: “I think the two balls that we got into the box with a bit of quality he (Ryan) got his head on the end of it. We’ve got to feed him and put decent balls in the box, and he will win his fair share, he’s showed today what a physical presence he is at the top end of the pitch and I was pleased with his work rate and his hold up play.
"He took a lot of pressure off us at times, but as a team there’s no point in us getting in excellent positions on the pitch with no end product so that’s a criticism from myself today and we’ll work on that. Recently we’ve created enough chances to score, but when you’re on top you have got to hurt teams, and you have to hurt good teams as well and Bury are a seriously good team in this league. It’s a half chance for them but they’ve hurt us.”
Going forward the City boss says today’s defeat is something that his side will learn from as they look to dust themselves down and head to Crewe Alexandra next weekend.
Matt said: “You can see how close it was today. There wasn’t much in between those two teams and they’re in the top three, and rightly so. The amount of goals they’ve scored this season is testament to the way they’re set up.
“That goal was a big moment for us in that game and it knocked the stuffing out of us, and we weren’t quite able to force our way back into it and break them down. They managed the game really well and that’s something that showed in terms of their experience and something we’ll learn from. There were still some good performances, Randell Williams looked a real threat, particularly in the first half and Archie Collins was excellent again in the middle of the park, and Deano (Dean Moxey) and Dara (O’Shea) were good at the back but we have to find a way to break teams down.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Mansfield Town on Saturday, March 30 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.