Tisdale proud of Exeter City
To finish the season off with a 2-2 draw against a team on Saturday, that was playing for, and expecting, automatic promotion was a good way to finish to close off what inevitability was a disappointing campaign for the Grecians, writes Gareth Hughes.
A total of 1,577 Blades, many in fancy dress as is tradition on the final day, were in Exeter to see the game, whilst thousands more were at Bramall Lane to watch live pictures beamed back.
For all Grecians, after three seasons in League One, the getting there with back-to-back promotions from the Conference and League Two, it’s been fun and exciting times. Taking the positives, the play against Sheffield Utd, and in recent games, is evidence enough that, with a bit less bad luck during the season, the team could have held on and survived in the third tier of the Football League. It was not to be though and as they say in the long run the position in the league table tells the real story.
The story on Saturday was that Exeter were the quickest out of the blocks. David Noble fired over after good work from a throw-in, whilst on the break, after nine minutes, Nardiello's goal bound effort was deflected to safety.
With the Blades having everything to play for, and City wanting to finish on a high, it was a competitive game and this was reflected in the total of seven yellow cards and a sending off. Exeter were the better of the two teams in the first half and on 24 minutes went in front through Alan Gow's sublime volley from the corner of the penalty box. With the Blades rattled, they were reduced to 10-men when Kevin Beattie was sent off in the 37th minute for a two-footed lunge on James Dunne. With Sheffield down to 10 men it was surprisingly they who went in at half time with the tails up, as they equalised just before the break through Williamson diverting cross from the right past the City keeper.
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Facing a team down to 10 men for the whole of the second half should have given City the advantage and impetus to win the game, but all the talk and tactics agreed at half time changed when the first action of the second half saw United win a throw on the left, deep into Exeter's half, and from Taylor's delivery, the ball was fed back to McDonald who, from the edge of the box, saw his shot hugely deflected beyond Krysiak's left hand.
At that point the game changed dramatically as the 10 men literally shut up shop and camped themselves in their own half. Unfortunately City were unable to breach the deep defensive wall, despite having most of the possession and disappointingly shots on target were few and far between. The day was saved though and Blades fans travelled home disappointed, when Exeter managed late equaliser when substitute Scot Bennett headed home.
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Paul Tisdale commented: "It was a great way to end the season with a meaningful goal with the last kick of the game, and Scot Bennett has been one of the big finds of the season for us. He will play a very big part in this team’s future over the next two or three years."
So City bow out of League One with their heads held high. Tisdale said:“We're all sorry we've gone down but we're very respectful of the way the club chooses to go about its business and how healthy it is. I still think we could've done better this season, there's things I would've done differently perhaps. I'm not at all ashamed of the fact we've been relegated, in fact I'm proud of the club, our discipline and the way we've played our football."