Surprised by defeat

There were two surprises this weekend at St James Park. First one, amid all the bad weather that arrived in Devon that the game was not postponed, and secondly after Exeter City had returned to the Park with two massive wins away to Bradford and Gillingham that the arrival of Rotherham would bring another home defeat as City went down 1-0, writes Gareth Hughes.

Grateful to see the game on and their heroes return, expectations were high in the belief that this promising City team had finally turned a corner and that the only way was up.

With Rotherham having won only one of their away games to date, and their infamous manager Steve Evans ahead of the game publicly bemoaning their injury crisis, how could it possibly go wrong for City and almost 4,000 fans?

Firstly, the result did not totally reflect the overall feel of the match which, apart from the hurt of the loss, was a decent game in terms of entertainment, competitiveness and excitement.

Both teams, in the first half, had their bright moments although the home team failed to dominate the opening 15 minutes. This possibly set the scene for the Millers to build some confidence and for doubts to be sown in the minds of our own players and fans.

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Ahead of the winning goal for Rotherham, both Jamie Cureton and Alan Gow had good chances to score with Gow curling a 25-yard shot against the Rotherham crossbar. The Rotherham goal was probably the key issue of the whole game and the biggest for fans to accept, as yet again an opposing team was allowed to score from a set piece with a clear header into the top corner, another defensive blunder beating the blameless Artur Krysiak.

From the start of the second half the Millers controlled the game, slowing it down with shameful time-wasting tactics which the referee seem to believe was all part of our great game.

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They also, quite rightly and fairly, positioned themselves behind the ball making it difficult for City to create chances. Jimmy Keohane who replaced the influential Tommy Doherty in the first half, through injury, was replaced by striker John O’Flynn in the second half in an attempt to press on the Millers. A sending off of Rotherham’s substitute Rose in the 86th minute came too late to make a difference and the game ended with what was probably a deserved win - a strangely entertaining, if frustrating, game for the Grecian fans, players and management.

Commenting after the game Paul Tisdale said: “I’m very disappointed we’ve lost, but I’m not too unhappy with the way we’ve committed today. Again, it becomes very difficult when we concede the first goal, which has happened too often.”

The next action at St James Park is the FA Cup 1st round proper for the Exeter City Ladies who play Brislington Ladies on Sunday, December 9. The newly-promoted ladies’ team currently play in the South West Women’s Combination League and are managed by Steve Tully and assistant manager Chad Gribble.

There is now a two-week break for Exeter City with the next game being away to Rochdale on December 8. The next home game is the local derby with Plymouth on Saturday, December 15, noon KO. Come on you Reds!

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