💬 Matt Taylor: “In the second half they were much better, but they did give themselves a bit of a hill to climb."

Manager Matt Taylor admitted he was disappointed with his side’s first-half showing as Exeter City lost 1-0 at home to Tranmere Rovers.

The Grecians fell behind just after the half-hour mark when James Norwood’s deflected strike found the back of the net.

The defeat comes on the back of a tough seven days for the Grecians where, despite a number of injuries, they have picked up a credible victory at in-form Crewe Alexandra and a well-earned draw away at league leaders Lincoln City.

City were also without Ryan Bowman for the match as he failed a late fitness test, but Matt wasn’t using that as an excuse for the loss. 

“We are obviously disappointed,” he said. “When you lose any game at home you are disappointed but I just didn’t feel we had enough fight in us in that first 45 minutes. 

“We didn’t quite compete with their physicality and their direct play and didn’t get to that first contact enough – anywhere on the pitch. We were just a yard of it against a good team, who were in form and they, unfortunately, punished us.”

Speaking about Norwood’s goal, Matt added: “It was a poor goal from our point of view. We knew the threat that was coming at us but we just couldn’t quite stop it at source and then we have got to deal with the next phase and it is still a slight deflection for the actual finish.”

City were better in the second half, with Jonathan Forte bringing two good saves out of Scott Davies and Hiram Boateng and Lee Holmes both going close. 

“In the second half we gave them a bit of direction and a little bit of a focus and they were much better, but they did give themselves a bit of a hill to climb in terms of that first-half performance,” said Matt. 

“Their keeper has made a couple of good saves and there has been a couple of half chances, with the ball bouncing in and around their box, but we couldn’t quite drag them out into areas that we needed to, to then hurt them. 

“I said after the Bury game that we couldn’t quite beat their opposition one v one. Apart from Kane, we didn’t really have any players who could do that today. It was a little bit disjointed.

"Obviously, Jonathan is not fully fit and he had to come on early on the back of Donovan’s (Wilson) injury and we are also missing Ryan Bowman in terms of physicality top end of the pitch. There are no excuses in terms of the personnel though, they are good enough to show more than they did in first period.

“If you want to be successful, you have got to wins games like that today and the way we would have won that game would have been to get through that first 45 minutes. It is as simple as that.

"If we had somehow dug-in, rolled our sleeves up, it wouldn’t have been pretty for 45 minutes, but we would have got in at 0-0 and we could have just implemented a bit of a plan and a bit of a focus to the group.”