We welcome thirteenth-placed Hull City to St. James Park for our next league match and the bookies make us 5/4 favourites. I make two changes, with Michel returning to the side and taking Ryan Mason’s place, whilst Daniel Berger replaces the injured Jagos Vukovic. Berger’s start is his 25th career league appearance and also his 25th league appearance for us, whilst his centre back partner (Sean Morrison) is making his 150th career league appearance. Jonny Hayes completes a hat-trick of milestones, making his 250th career league appearance. In the 2nd minute, Edwards gets into the area, shoots from 16 yards and puts the visitors into a one goal lead. So much for being the favourites! We hit back 2 minutes later to level the score when Gennaro Riccardi takes a free kick from the left on the halfway line and Hayes marks his 250th career league appearance with a volley from 12 yards for his 12th goal of the season. Time for the favourites to kick on! Until three minutes later when a Derbyshire strike from 25 yards flies into the top corner to stun the 8,714 in attendance and put the visitors 2-1 up. I hope no-one got in late as they’ve missed an incredible opening 10 minutes, as well as us forgetting how to defend. A 14th minute corner finds Cocis who shoots, but Jonathan Bond keeps the deficit at 1 by tipping it round the post for a corner. The game settles down after the frenetic start, with the next action of note coming in the 37th minute when Bradley Johnson plays in Michel, who coolly slots the ball under the keeper from 18 yards for his 6th goal of the season. 4 goals in the opening half – pretty good entertainment. Bertin Matip takes an inswinging corner in stoppage time and Michele Marconi meets the ball at the near post with his head, but Hutchins is on the line for Hull. Unfortunately for him and them, the ball hits him and goes in. Incredible! We were 1 down after two minutes, 2-1 down after 7 minutes, but take a 3-2 lead into the second half! We start the second half strong, with Dacian Varga crossing from the left in the 47th and finding Hayes at the far post. He spurns the chance of a second goal with a weak shot back across goal that dribbles wide. Matip takes another inswinging corner in the 52nd minute, with this one being met by the head of Bradley Johnson at the near post. Johnson’s header beats the keeper, but not the crossbar; the ball drops, hits Camara who is defending on the far post and goes in for our fourth of the afternoon and the second own goal of the afternoon by Hull. Michel comes close to making it 5 two minutes later from 20 yards, but the keeper gets down well to deny him. Varga picks up a yellow card in the 64th minute for a foul on Hutchins, whilst a free kick in our favour six minutes later sees the keeper save a 25 yard effort by Hayes. George King comes on for his Exeter debut in the 79th minute, making it the fourth milestone of the match and the last action of note comes in the 84th minute when Riccardi plays in Manuel Galivan, who slots the ball under the keeper from 10 yards for our fifth of the afternoon and his sixth of the season. Bradley Johnson is named Man of the Match with a rating of 8.7 and 2 assists and the victory keeps us 4th in the table.
After the match, the media praise Bradley Johnson’s recent performances, which they’re right to do – he’s certainly been chipping in with goals and assists recently. Unsurprisingly, he gets named in Team of the Week and is joined by Gennaro Riccardi. Ivan Byram returns from his loan spell at Stevenage. Before the midweek fixtures, Brighton and Hove Albion manager informs the press that we’re favourites for promotion.