After our pre-season games, the real stuff begins!
Date: Saturday 6th August 2016
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter=6/4(Favourites), Draw=2/1, Burnley=13/8
Weather: Dry, 20C
Referee: Mr Anthony Taylor
A familiar-looking side take to the field for the opening match of the season, as no new signings make a debut (although Lasse Karlsen and Florian Koch are named on the bench). A few of the Burnley players seem to be lacking in match practice, so hopefully we can take advantage of this. In the 14th minute, an outswinging Bertin Matip corner is flicked on by Bradley Johnson at the near post and Jagos Vukovic at the far post heads home our first goal of the season from 6 yards. Anyone who bet on Vukovic being our first goalscorer of the season will have done very nicely! The 23rd minute sees Catalin Rentea make a 20 yard run before shooting just wide from 25 yards. Evidently all my goals are going to come from the back this season! Four minutes later, Matip takes an outswinging corner, Johnson flicks on at the near post and Vukovic meets it at the far post, but Grant is able to tip it over for another corner. We’re looking incredibly dangerous from set pieces, especially with those three! It’s no surprise that Grant’s save only delayed the inevitable – Matip takes an outswinging corner, Johnson flicks on at the near post and it’s volleyed home from 3 yards at the far post by Vukovic, who doubles his tally and our lead. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that we’d have a centre back on a hat-trick inside the opening 30 minutes of the season opener (or any other game for that matter). The first half fizzles out, probably because we can’t force any more outswinging corners.
Seven minutes into the second half, Dacian Varga is forced to go off injured after a tackle by Blake. Koch replaces him to make his debut. Jonny Hayes shoots from 18 yards in the 65th minute, but his shot goes just wide. Three minutes later, Koch crosses from the right and Federico Cenci meets it with a header from 12 yards, but it goes just over. Ryan Mason nearly grabs a third for us in the 83rd minute with a shot from 25 yards, but although Grant spills it, Burnley are able to clear it. In the 90th minute, Easton shoots from 18 yards, but it doesn’t trouble Jonathan Bond as it goes over the bar. We have the final chance in the first minute of stoppage time when Cenci shoots 18 yards, but Grant parries and Burnley clear for a throw-in.
Result: Exeter City 2-0 Burnley
Man of the Match: Jagos Vukovic
Player ratings: GK-Bond (6.9); DR-Rentea (7.3); DCR-Berger (7.2); DCL-Vukovic (9.2, 2G); DL-Riccardi (7.4); MCR-Matip (6.9); MCL-Johnson (8.1, 2A); AMR-Hayes (6.9); AMC-Mason (6.9); AML-Varga (6.9, off 52); ST-Cenci (6.8). Subs-Koch (6.8, on 52). Unused-Spasov, Karlsen, Spearing, Keane.
League Position: 4th
An excellent start to the season as we go straight back to where we finished last season. The injury to Dacian Varga isn’t serious, with the physiotherapy team reporting a dead leg that will keep him out for 3-4 days; he was never going to play in the League Cup (which is up next), so I’m as happy as can been with an injury. Ebbsfleet offer to loan Tomasz Surowiak for 5 months, I agree and he joins them. Team of the Week is announced and Gennaro Riccardi, Jagos Vukovic and Bradley Johnson all get named in it. However, we now need to switch our focus from the league to the League Cup.