Matt Taylor was full of praise for his Exeter City side who fought bravely away at Cambridge United only to be pegged back late to a last-minute equaliser.
“I thought we were excellent, start to finish. I thought we played really well; the goal in the 94th minute is the worst time to concede, and it is a mistake on our part, but I can’t criticise this group of players in terms of what they gave me today. It was a real performance start to finish - we used the ball well, tough when we needed to be tough, and limited them to very few chances, I’m not sure Johnny had too many saves to make.”
Sam Smith’s injury-time equaliser means City will face Cambridge again at SJP in a replay. Alex Fisher had put the Grecians ahead, punishing the home side’s defence for an error, before they levelled late on.
“It hurts to concede so late on, but full credit to Cambridge – they kept on going and we’re both still in the hat for the next round. They got back in the game because of one mistake we made, but I’m not going to hang people out because of that.
Alex Fisher made a difference; him and Ryan Bowman were physical and ran well, Fish took his goal well. I thought they linked up pretty well and then Ben Seymour and Lee Martin made an impact as well. You always want a second goal to be more comfortable, but like I said, full credit to Cambridge – they withstood any pressure we applied and then kept going till the end.”
Taylor was delighted with the strength in depth of the squad, as three further changes were made to the side that lost away at Bradford – one enforced, with Jake Taylor serving the first of a three-game suspension.
“Woody and MJ are good players, the whole squad isn’t going to play every game – we have 7 out today in terms of injuries and suspensions which isn’t going to be easy for any team. Archie Collins captained us today for the first time, another one of our academy products coming through, and we had a real freshness about us today.
I thought Nigel was excellent today for the time he was on the pitch, he was cramping up towards the end but that’s because he’s been out for such a long period. We can talk all day long about ifs and buts – at the end of the day we’re disappointed but I’m proud of that performance and that group of players.“
Matt also made the decision to captain Archie Collins for the cup fixture, the first time Collins has captained the club whose academy he is a product of. Collins stood out in the fixture with trademark tenacity in the tackle and superb passing range.
“Archie has probably been one of our best players this season. He’s very consistent, has probably played the most minutes and it’s time he took more responsibility with this group of players. He’s a quiet lad, he really is, but I felt it was time for him to step forward for a leadership role within the team.
He wouldn’t have been able to do that if we didn’t have Craig Woodman, Aaron Martin, Pierce Sweeney, Ryan Bowman and all those players have been helping him out. Traditionally this club has made good young products captain at an early age. Jake’s obviously suspended for another two games so we’ll see if Archie continues.”
Talking about the significance of the FA Cup, Matt said that it “means bits and pieces but we can’t look beyond the next game, we’ll obviously look at the draw but it’s irrelevant unless we beat Cambridge.”
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