Exeter City manager Matt Taylor was left proud of his players following their 1-0 win at Notts County in Sky Bet League Two.
The Grecians, who were reduced to 10 men on 23 minutes when Ryan Bowman was sent off, had to battle with their numerical disadvantage as the hosts dominated possession.
But a resilient defensive performance and Nicky Law’s 93rd minute winner was enough to give the Grecians all three points leaving the City boss delighted.
Following the match, Matt explained: “You’re delighted because you’ve won the game but even if we’d have been beaten in the last 10 minutes, or if it was a draw, I’d have said the same thing.
“We executed a game plan in that second period. The red card is disappointing and it’s disappointing for Ryan (Bowman) because that’s two big mistakes on his behalf but the way the team dug in and stuck to a task in that second period was simply outstanding. We scored a goal in the 93rd minute, we’ve conceded a few of them this season, so it’s nice to be on the better side of a last-minute goal.”
The City boss was pleased with his side’s ability to dig in and defend strongly with the likes of Troy Brown and Dean Moxey often doing well to clear away the County danger. Matt felt his side had to put in a disciplined display to keep out the home side.
He continued: “The fans are there because they’ve seen the players, the staff, and everyone connected with the club give everything they possibly can for that 96 minutes of the game, and luckily, luckily, we got three points at the end.
“When you go down to 10 men on a pitch like this against a good team it had to be disciplined and we couldn’t sacrifice too many players beyond the ball because we knew they’d hurt the space. We sacrificed the outside of the pitch and they put crosses into the box which we defended really well.”
Despite the Magpies seeing more of the ball they were unable to put too much pressure on City goalkeeper Christy Pym, and Matt credited his defence for the way they performed.
“I’ve just spoken to Christy (Pym) and he’s not had a serious save to make throughout the game, he’s done bits and pieces, but he’s not had a serious save to make which is testament to the boys in front of them,” said Matt. “It’s three points but now I’ve got some tired bodies, a player suspended to add to the injury problems that we’ve got, and we’ve got a massive game next weekend now (v Mansfield Town.) As much as we’re going to enjoy this moment, I’m already thinking about next week.
City striker, Bowman, was sent from the field following two bookable offences in quick succession. Though disappointed to see his forward sent off, the City manager didn’t want to comment too much on the decisions made at Meadow Lane and was keen for the focus to remain on his players.
Matt explained: “I don’t want to comment too much about the referee but anyone who was here today could see in the first 30 seconds of the game the mindset of the referee, and that’s all I want to say. If there’s two bookings then I’ve got no complaints, but it has to go both ways, there were more poor tackles in the game.
“The story shouldn’t be about the referee or Ryan Bowman’s sending off, it should be about the group of players and those fans.”
Defender Troy Brown made his first start since the match with Lincoln City back in September last year, and Matt was delighted with his performance considering the amount of game time he has missed through injury. The City boss also said he will have personnel decisions to make as the Grecians now look to a big game at home to Mansfield Town next week.
Matt explained: “It was Troy Brown’s first game in six months, he wasn’t down to play 90 minutes, and wasn’t down to play, but he had to play pretty much the whole game with 10 men. It’s testament to his character and the work with the physios and the strength and conditioning staff. He’s been an important player for Exeter City for a number of years at the heart of that defence, and today you probably saw what we’ve missed throughout the season.
“It’s only one game and he has to now do that for the next eight games and so has Dean Moxey. Pierce Sweeney was under the weather following his chicken pox bug and he had to come on early, but he was exactly like he has been before he went away. That’s what I need from my group of players, I need bodies ready to play, step in, and perform at their peak. I had to take Hiram (Boateng) off because he was dead on his feet, no one remembers he’s been out for five months, Nicky Law is still not fully fit, and he got through it.
“I can’t be prouder of that group of players and we’ve got to get stronger. It’s easy me saying that rather than producing it, but we’ve got a massive game next weekend and I’ve got to look at the personnel available and pick the right team.”
🎟 UP NEXT AT SJP 🎟
Tickets are on advance sale for City's home match against Crawley Town on Saturday, February 29 in a 3pm kick-off. Click here to buy now!