Big month ahead for City
PUBLISHED: 11:03 04 February 2011
Exeter City travelled across the M4 to the County Ground, home of Swindon Town.
The good news ahead of the game was that Swindon had sold their top goal scorer Charlie Austin to Burnley in the transfer window and that there had been no time for Danny Wilson to spend any of the cash. The other good news was, of course, the return of Ryan Harley to the City team, on loan from his new club Premiership hopefuls, Swansea Town.
The result was a goalless draw and manager Paul Tisdale summed up his post match feelings: "We are the away team, so we have to be happy with a point. Swindon had lots of chances, especially in the first half, and it was a hard afternoon.
“It was one of those days when you have to dig deep, work hard and be happy with a draw. Both teams were trying to win the game and I was pleased with our effort and commitment.
" The result leaves City currently occupying 13th place in the league and, are just five points from both the play-off places and relegation places. Travelling City fans were realistic about City’s performance and had to admit it was poor. Ian Emerson from Sidmouth said: " The draw was a ‘get out of jail free’ card. On the day, Swindon could have gone two or three up and, thankfully, they didn't have any decent forwards. It definitely was a point gained!"
On Tuesday evening it was back to St James Park to face Championship hopefuls, and fourth-placed Southampton who, on Saturday, came close to removing Manchester United out of the FA Cup, after succumbing to a second-half comeback by the Reds and losing just 2-1.
This was always going to be a big game to have in the diary and a decent crowd of 6,200 which included 1,100 Saints fans, turned up and what a fantastic evening of football and drama. The game probably had it all, including the highs of leading 1-0 on 39 minutes, to the acceptance that City may have to contend with a very credible draw when the Saints levelled to make it 1-1 in the 71st minute, to absolute dejection and disbelief when City conceded another late goal with just seconds of normal time remaining! In fairness, Southampton did hit the crossbar on three occasions, but were more than matched by the Grecians for effort, desire to win, and battling performances in all areas of the pitch.
Ben Hamer, in the Exeter goal, put in another great performance as did indeed Davies in goal for the visitors who made excellent saves in the second half from Sercombe and O'Flynn. Make no mistakes this was a resurgent City performance, leaving the doldrums performances of the Walsall and Swindon games consigned to history.
The only debate for fans to dwell on was, should we have defended the 1-1 score line or gone for the win as it appeared we did when Nardiello and Ryan Harley were replaced with Marcus Stewart and Richard Logan, to freshen up their attacking options with just minutes to go? Whatever the view, it was a great City performance and for me every player was a man of the match! Still in 13th place, but seven points off the playoffs and five points off the drop zone in a still very tight table.
The Grecians have now entered a six week period where they have midweek fixtures as well as at the weekend. This will be a very crucial time and could determine which part of the league table will be their ultimate destiny.
This coming Saturday, it’s home to Huddersfield Town and the following Monday it’s the second leg of the St Johnstone's Paint area semi-final and the winners on the night will be booking their place at the Wembley final. After Tuesday’s performance there is clearly a lot more left in the City tank. Come on you Reds.
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