City supporters dreaming of a Reds’ goalscorer
Last weekend, the Grecians made the long trip up north to the home of Sheffield Wednesday and, for all their efforts, the Owls beat Exeter 3-0, to chalk up a sixth successive Hillsborough triumph, writes Gareth Hughes.
The fact that last season, the Grecians ‘did the double’ over their hosts and were the last team to beat them at Hillsborough, is a stark indicator, if it were needed, of how much City fortunes have collapsed around them this season, to date.
In fairness, Saturday’s game was never on the cards to be the game where the corner of Exeter’s poor start was going to be turned, as the Owls have won five home league matches and had a cup victory. Up front, they have Gary Madine, who has contributed to their successes scoring nine goals in seven games. Sheffield Wednesday fans’ chant of ‘Gary Madine, goal machine’ is a pretty fair one as he added to City’s woes with a brace for the third successive home game.
In terms of the game, City managed to stifle Sheffield's ambitions for the first half hour, partly due to a dogged defensive display and setting themselves up from the start in a pragmatic 4-5-1 style, committing plenty of men behind the ball.
The Grecians lacked either the luck, confidence, quality or combination of all three, and their tactic of pumping the ball long was meat and drink for Sheffield's central defensive partnership.
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Daniel Nardiello had a glorious chance to put City in front, but failed to get on the end of Matthew Whichelow’s low cross. Exeter were punished by two Owls’ goals in four minutes. The hosts went ahead after something of a scramble in the box, poked home by James O’Connor from close range.
Then, up popped Madine to nod in from a similar distance after a defensive Grecian mix-up. The result was never in doubt and Owls had Madines's penalty in the 75th minute to add to their tally.
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City defender Richard Duffy has echoed what all Grecian fans know all too well, as City reflected on their seventh defeat of the season, leaving them second from bottom of npower League One. “We can’t score goals and we are leaking goals at the moment. Confidence is obviously low at the moment because of where we are in the table. We are in a rut and we have to grind a result out from somewhere and then, from there, we will see where it turns.” Manager Paul Tisdale commented: “There’s a fine line between a team where the players are driving forward on the fringe of confidence and them suddenly becoming confident”
This weekend, The Grecians host Oldham Athletic at St James Park. The Latics occupy 12th place with some excellent form on their travels. Another stiff challenge, but an opportunity to reverse the worst start City have made to a League season since the Gerry Francis era of 1983-84. This is way before my time, and they tell me City then took eight games before they registered a win ,and had to wait until December 3 for a home win against Hull City! Come on you Reds - an Exeter player has not scored a goal for five matches, so let's really believe: "We'll score again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll score again, some sunny day."
?St James Park : Tuesday, October 4: Swindon, Johnstone's Paint Trophy Ko 7.15 pm, October 15: Huddersfield, league , ko 3 pm.