Exeter City manager Matt Taylor praised his side’s efforts as they ran out 3-1 winners over MK Dons at St James Park.
The Grecians won the match with two goals from Nicky Law and one from captain Jake Taylor, with Joe Walsh getting the Dons’ only goal of the game.
On the fantastic performance, Matt said: “It all came together in terms of the result, obviously one we were desperate for, but the way that we started the game and got a foothold with our pressing and our ability to hurt them and force them into errors and we carried on that all through the game.
“The group have given absolutely everything, some of them were on the floor at the end. We had a few bruised bodies at half-time and I just asked them: ‘have you got another 45 minutes of that in your locker?’ and they had. They scored from a set piece which we’re disappointed with to get them back into the game, but we deserved that little bit of luck in terms of the third goal and that was the way we pressed, we forced them into errors and forced them to play direct right into the backline and we were worthy winners today.”
The Grecians led 2-0 at the break after a dominant first half display, but Matt was keen to emphasise that the Grecians needed to continue their hard work, and they did so excellently.
Matt told them: “Nothing cheap, nothing soft, they’re a good team and full credit to them because they will be in and around it come the end of the season. We knew they had serious threats about them, and I just wanted the lads to keep that intensity and full credit to them.
“We tried to tweak it with Kane Wilson coming on just to sure us up at the back a little bit because they were getting on top. The little bit of luck for the third goal, the whole team, Nicky deserved that because of the way they went after the ball. MK Dons are a serious team in possession and at times, I know the pitch is a slight leveller, but we made them look an average team at times.
“We knew they were going to fly at us (in the second half,) but we wanted to fly at them as much as that. They got the first punch but the 10 minutes after that goal really pleased me. The desire from the whole group today was for all to see, Dean Moxey leading it and he’s got blood on his nose, his knees, his elbows and he was on the floor at the end. He epitomised it today, he led that back line and he has done for a number of weeks now and that’s what I want from this group. I want people to keep stepping up, so I’m trying to lead them the best I possibly can but there’s no one better to lead them than the players themselves.”
The City boss also praised Dara O’Shea for another strong performance in central defence, in front of another youngster in Archie Collins.
He continued: “Dara’s getting better and better, you saw in the first half when he went down, and we’ve been managing him for the last couple of weeks. He’s only a kid and he’s playing a serious position at centre half and he’s got a kid in front of him in Archie Collins as well. The youthful energy levels were there, and the elder statesman compared to Archie and Dara, the energy levels from Lee Martin, Jonathan Forte, Lee Holmes and Jake Taylor. That was a performance based on effort, sometimes you can win a game on effort alone, and we got our rewards today.”
Nicky Law got his third goal in two games for the Grecians as he turned out another man of the match display, and another performance which pleased the City manager.
Matt said: “He’s class, that’s why I signed him. He’s a good player, slightly more central today and I want him to influence games in and out of possession and the more times we get Nicky Law on the ball, we’re a better team without a shadow of a doubt. He’s got to stay fit and he’s got to keep doing his defensive work and, like he did in terms of the reward he got for the goal, right place at the right time but we’re lucky to have him.”
The Grecians will now turn their attentions to next week’s long trip north to Cumbria to take on a Carlisle side who are also battling towards the top of the table.
Looking ahead, Matt explained: “No games are the same, I’ve just said to them it’s another three points. I think there’s 16 games left now but like I’ve said to the group, MK Dons will be there or there abouts at the end of the season and we dominated that game for large periods, so we’ve set our own standard. We go to Carlisle next week on a different pitch in a different environment against a different opposition, we have to go with that intent.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, March 2 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.