City up with the big boys

Following the tremendous promotion to League One last May, Exeter City fans will have been looking forward to the first game of the season in the new division, write Gareth Hughes.

Following the tremendous promotion to League One last May, Exeter City fans will have been looking forward to the first game of the season in the new division.

As chance would have it, City played their first game in League One, away at Elland Road against the "mighty mighty whites" of Leeds United. Who would have thought we'd be saying that, three years after losing in the conference play-off final at Wembley?

The crowd at Elland Road was 27,681 and this was swelled by a massive contingent of City travelling fans totalling 2,832. The crowd was the biggest opening day attendance at Elland Road since 2004! On Saturday it was the highest gate in League One, and I guess us Devon folk can put this down to the appearance "up north" of the Mighty Mighty Reds! Di Lee, who organised a coach for Sidmouth City fans, was still buzzing the next day. "It was awesome. To think we were drawing 1-1 with a few minutes to go as well. The singing was superb and we really showed them how we support our club. It was a fantastic day out."

To say the result didn't matter would be wrong, and to say the 2-1 defeat is understandable would also be wrong. From all the accounts the Grecians gave the mighty mighty whites a good run for their footballing money and, after going 1-0 down after 13 minutes to a Jermaine Beckford opener, City began to grow in confidence as the first half came to an end. With an unfortunate sending off for City new boy and striker Barry Corr in the 59th minute, this was the signal for the team to really step it up, and a well worked free kick from Alex Russell and the Grecians pulled it back to 1-1.

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With only two minutes of normal time to be played, Beckford, who scored 27 goals in 27 starts last season, popped up again to bag the late winner for the home side. Let there be no underestimation of the Exeter performance though, as this was Leeds' 12th successive victory, an unbeaten home run since last January, and it's 20 years since they last lost on the opening day of a season!

Tuesday night, and it was the turn of Queens Park Rangers to play Exeter, this time at St James Park, in the first round of the Carling Cup. For those not at the game they could surmise it was sound thrashing with the 5-0 defeat. It was in fairness an entertaining game with some good football being played by both teams. The victory was set up with a hat-trick from Wayne Routledge. Clearly QPR were the runaway winners and, as the second half developed, their classy players made it tell. Another City sending off, for a handball on the line certainly did not help and the lack of City firepower showed.

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l This Saturday it's back to League action, and the Grecians welcome Norwich City to the Park. Norwich lost their first game of the season last week 7-1, but bounced back in Carling Cup action, overcoming Yeovil 4-0.

l Next Tuesday it's a West Country derby, when the visitors are Yeovil Town. Come on you Reds!

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