Happy New Year from all at Exeter City Football Club!
It has been quite a year on and off the pitch at St James Park, but as 2021 is set firmly in our sights, we would like to take a step back and reflect on what has been a topsy turvy twelve months for Exeter City.
As the long trip to Barrow beckons, Jed Penberthy looks back at five games that defined 2020 for Exeter City, from goals galore to last season’s climax with a positive look forward for what’s to come.
Exeter City 5-1 Oldham Athletic
St James Park | February 11, 2020.
Nothing quite screams promotion contenders with a home thumping. City were knocking on the door of the automatic spots ahead of this clash with the Latics. The Grecian’s went ahead on 21 minutes with Jayden Richardson’s deft little flick after neat interchange with Matt Jay.
David Wheater levelled for Oldham but went from hero to zero just before the break with by handling on the line and seeing red. MJ dispatched the penalty. After the break, the rout began.
Archie Collins smashed home from 25-yards out, Ryan Bowman looped a header over Le Paz and Brennan Dickenson fortuitously found the net with a crossed free kick which evaded everybody.
After the game, Matt Taylor praised the ground-staff who made the game possible and the 3,527 fans who made the trip on a freezing February night. The result showed positive signs for the Grecians who, in the words of the manager, “had not scored enough goals [this season].”
Exeter City 3-1 Colchester United
League Two Play-off Semi Finals 2nd Leg
St James Park, June 22, 2020
Ah. The Corona Virus pandemic. The less said about it the better, but the disruption Covid-19 caused on the regular season was plain to see. Despite bumpy form before the first lockdown, Matt Taylor’s men still felt confident of gaining an automatic place prior to the curtailment.
City were gifted one more chance at promotion via the play-offs and went into the second leg a goal down and without the roaring Big Bank to cheer them over the line. One thing Exeter City did have as a secret weapon was the phenomenal home form amassed over the course of the season, having only lost once at St James Park all season.
The record wasn’t to change as City wiped the first leg deficit within 10 minutes. Patient play around the U’s box allowed Fisher to get a shot away, the ball bounced up from the goalkeeper and Aaron Martin volleyed in.
The Grecian’s went ahead in the tie shortly before the hour. Jayden Richardson’s shot squirmed under Dean Gerken to put Exeter two to the good.
Courtney Senior side-footed home for Colchester to take the game to Extra Time. A special shoutout to Jonny Maxted who’s incredible save from Kwame Poku in the dying moments kept the aggregate scores level.
Exeter booked their place under the arch in the second half of extra time. Archie Collins muscled forward into the Essex club’s half before playing Ryan Bowman through, and Bowman kept his composure to send Exeter to their third play-off final in four years.
Exeter City 0-4 Northampton Town
League Two Play-off Final
Wembley Stadium | June 29, 2020
It would not be the life of an Exeter City fan if the Grecians won every game imaginable, though that would be the dream. Sadly, this game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, yet there’s call for optimism. This was only Matt Taylor’s second season in charge of City and since his promotion to first team boss has reinvigorated the club.
Throughout the 2019/20 season Exeter eclipsed expectations in a strong division and proved in glimpses why the team’s capable of promotion, yet this year it wasn’t to be.
The campaign ended being a season of what-if’s, mostly due to the virus. Looking back at the whole season from the point of view of this game, maybe the loss gave Taylor the inspiration to grow the exciting free scoring squad we have this term.
Exeter City 6-1 Colchester United
St James Park | November 24, 2020
Free scoring you say? Exeter City scored six goals for the first time since 1993 as Ryan Bowman netted a second half hat trick against last season’s play-off opposition.
Matt Jay got City off the mark with a first-half flick at the near post. Exeter put the accelerator down shortly after the break as Jay burst through and unselfishly teed up Joel Randall. It was three before the hour mark, Jack Sparkes delivered a wicked ball across the six-yard box where Ryan Bowman was on hand to slide the ball home.
Number four came soon after, this time Randall powered into the U’s box and found Bowman unmarked with the goal at his mercy. Colchester showed spirit as Michael Folivi cut inside and netted off the inside of the post for 4-1.
Ryan Bowman completed his hat trick three minutes into injury time, again from point blank range, but City weren’t finished. With the final whistle pressed against Trevor Kettle’s lips Ryan Bowman nicked the ball off Cohen Bramall and square for Nicky Ajose. The substitute’s effort trickled onto the post but was smartly followed up by Matt Jay for his second, and Exeter’s sixth.
Exeter City 5-0 Tranmere Rovers
St James Park | December 12, 2020
City welcomed fans back with an exhilarating display against Tranmere Rovers. 1,600 fans were in attendance as Ryan Bowman got the Red’s on their way with a cheeky nut meg and side-foot finish after eight minutes.
Matt Jay had the chance to double Exeter’s tally from the spot after Joel Randell was felled in the area. As reliable as ever, MJ slotted into the right corner.
Bowman got his second and City’s third on 27 minutes. The press paid dividends as the Number 12 stole the ball, jinked onto his left-foot and fired beyond Scott Davies.
Randall then teed up Jake Taylor for number four with the goal of the game and soon Bowman was gifted his second consecutive home hat trick to complete yet another satisfying home victory.
2020 has easily been the strangest year in living memory, and at Exeter City it has been no different. It’s had its ups and downs. The disappointment of Wembley will ache, but the excitement growing around the current crop of players at St James Park is tangible. The incredible work of the academy has flooded the first team with real talent and there is certainly plenty more to come in 2021.
So, as we dive into the New Year starting with Saturday’s trip to Barrow, we share the frustration that you can’t be there to cheer us on. But we want to reiterate our thanks for the all the support you have given us throughout this crazy twelve months, and until we meet again, stay home and stay safe.
Up the City!