Exeter City manager Matt Taylor admitted it was the clean sheet that pleased him most about his side’s performance away at Swindon Town on New Year’s Day.
The Grecians won 2-0 in Wiltshire thanks to a penalty from Jonathan Forte and a wonder goal from teenager Archie Collins.
However, having conceded two soft goals at home to Grimsby Town last time out, it was the defensive foundations that the performance was built on that pleased Matt.
“It is the sign of a strong team and we have not quite done it enough this season,” explained Matt. “Hopefully 2019 will be a year where we base it on a defensive foundation. It was the whole group though. The front boys worked so hard to press the opposition and I just felt that was a good stage for a performance like that, which showed the true Exeter City.”
“It was was a convincing 2-0 victory. It was close to being a complete performance, but it was based on a solid foundation. I might have been over critical at times, in terms of our back four this season and the goals that we have conceded but I know the quality is there.
“I thought every single one of those defenders, and Pymy (Christy Pym) included, were absolutely outstanding today and that has got to be a foundation we base our performances on moving forward because you can see the quality we have got going forward.
"It came from a slightly different source today in terms of Archie Collins in the second half, but we will score goals. If we are going to be aiming for success in the second half of the season then it will be based on clean sheets.”
Matt had to change tactics slightly with Jayden Stockley unavailable for selection. That saw Forte start up front and the focus switch to a game centre more around a high press. That got City their opening goal as an energetic Matt Jay stole the ball of Sid Nelson on the edge of the Swindon box before being clumsily upended by the home defender in the area.
“Obviously Jayden wasn’t involved today and Jayden is a different type of player to what we had up top today,” said Matt. “So you lose a bit of physicality and control at top end of the pitch in terms of long balls but you gain the legs.
Jono (Forte), Chieo (Chiedozie Ogebene) and Lee Martin have probably got the best physical attributes in the squad and possible at this level. We wanted to use them in a different way today. They will probably hurt teams more in terms than they showed today in terms of their running game but they competed so well. They pressed the opposition and that probably meant our defenders were dealing with less quality balls into our backline and Dara (O’Shea) and Deano (Moxey) worked very well as a partnership today.”
The moment of the match was undoubtedly Collins’ strike though, as midway through the second half he cut in from the left before curling a 25-yard shot into the top corner for his first goal in professional football.
“I am as happy as anyone about his goal,” said Matt. “But he has got to keep his place in the team based on his physical attributes and being quick to the ball. He has got more in his locker. He is a player that we have earmarked for the future in terms of what he can produce for this club but also at a higher standard. He has got that bit of quality. He used to play in attacking positions coming through the under-18s and the academy and he will go and create goals. At the moment, I am asking him to do a certain job and he is doing that fantastically well. He has just got to concentrate on staying in this team.”