High hopes dashed

PUBLISHED: 10:01 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:19 17 June 2010

Exeter City FC: With an 11-day break from competitive football after a busy and successful Christmas programme, hopes were high in the Exeter City rank and file, as the team lined up against Rushden and Diamonds in the 2nd round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy

Exeter City FC: With an 11-day break from competitive football after a busy and successful Christmas programme, hopes were high in the Exeter City rank and file, as the team lined up against Rushden and Diamonds in the 2nd round of the FA Carlsberg Trophy last Saturday.

Talk was positive around emerging New Year opportunities of signing new players in the transfer window, and of having a strong finish to the season, just as we saw last season when we were rewarded with a final playoff game at Wembley.

The only real concern was how quickly would wonder striker Jamie Mackie be enticed away to a host of clubs who were rumoured to be chasing his signature.

Come 5pm last Saturday, it all looked a lot less promising as Rushden & Diamonds reached the third round of the Trophy with a very comfortable 3-0 victory over Exeter City, in what Rushden fans would say was an entertaining match at Nene Park, maintaining their 100% home record over the Grecians.

Local City fans who travelled up to the game were much less charitable about the performance of their team and it would be fair to say "Carlsberg 2nd Round, possibly, no probably, the worst game we have ever seen City play".

It was indeed an abject and dismal effort, and not worthy of the standards that City have recently aspired to. Two cracking goals against an impotent City gave it a Double Diamond feel and, from then on, City staggered to the final whistle, with a third goal against them, and also contriving to lose Jon Richardson with a red card for a professional foul.

One view could be that it was only the Trophy, and we are out of it, so we will not suffer the backlog of fixtures a run in it would have caused. Hopefully, when we are back at Nene Park on April 19 for the league encounter, it will mean a lot more to our players and management who will be up for it and have more of a game plan backed up with real passion.

Back to the positives and Jamie Mackie has topped the fans poll to be the Blue Square Premier "Player of the Month" for December. Mackie polled a record number of votes from fans visiting the Blue Square football website.

The highlight of his month was the brace against local rivals Torquay United on Boxing Day, a game which City won 4-3. Other news is that both Plymouth Argyle and Cheltenham Town have had bids for Mackie turned down, and manager Paul Tisdale is keen to hang on to his star, in the hope he will be a key part of the success in getting into the playoffs and hopefully promotion.

This Sunday, City host Oxford Utd, in a game that has been rescheduled for Setanta TV. City are ninth in the table with at least one game more to play than the teams above them.

It would take a brave person to bet on the Grecians for automatic promotion, being already 21 points behind Aldershot. However, this still leaves the potential for an exciting and combative second half of the season. A couple of new signings, a good win on Sunday, Mackie agrees to stay, some inspired leadership from manager Paul Tisdale, other leading clubs' fixture backlog because of the Carlsberg Cup, City embark on a great run of form, and probably get through to the play offs. Let's have a drink on that then! Come on you reds.

Next home game: Sunday, January 20 - Exeter vs Oxford Utd - 7.45pm ko

East Devon Grecians: We are a local supporters' group of fans based around the East Devon area including Sidmouth Crediton, Honiton Rousdon, Axminster and Exeter. We now have 121 members, meet once a month and arrange social events.

If anyone would like to know more about us or would like help with lifts to games, please contact Gareth Hughes on (01395) 515552 or on hughes.gareth@btinternet.com

By Gareth Hughes

Exeter City FC

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