Another weekend, another trip to the Midlands.
Date: Saturday 20th August 2016
Opposition: Nottingham Forest (1st)
Venue: The City Ground
Odds: Nottingham Forest=Evens (favourites), Draw=11/5, Exeter City=11/5
Weather: Dry, 13C
Referee: Mr Jon Moss
I make one enforced change with Metodi Spasov coming in for the injured Jonathan Bond and one tactical change as Jay Spearing comes in for Michel. In the 9th minute, Federico Cenci cuts the ball back from the left to Dacian Varga who finds the net from 8 yards. Unfortunately, it’s the side netting. My tactical change is to keep things tight against Nottingham Forest and it’s successful, although at the expense of any exciting or entertaining football, with Varga’s chance being the only action of note in the first half.
The second half starts with Nottingham Forest’s first chance of note as Manchester United reject Bebe shoots from 18 yards, but it’s straight at Spasov and he saves comfortably. A minute later, Cenci shoots from further out than Bebe (25 yards out) and Martin saves before Forest clear for a corner. Jonny Hayes picks up a long ball from Spearing in the 59th minute. He’s one-on-one with Martin. He shoots. He shoots straight at Martin, who parries. The ball falls to Cenci. He’s 12 yards out and rolls the ball into the net for his first goal of the season and the 400th goal of my time in charge at the club. The joy is short-lived as two minutes later, Moloney playes the ball to Bebe and he is successful from 18 yards this time. Francois nearly puts Forest in the lead in the 69th minute, but his free-kick from 20 yards goes just over. In the 70th minute, Michel comes on for Bradley Johnson. Stevens has a chance from 16 yards out in the 75th minute, but he drags his shot wide. Mr Moss produces his first yellow card in the 79th minute, with Cenci’s name being taken. Hayes has another chance in the 81st minute, but again is only able to shoot straight at Martin. Again, Martin parries. The ball falls to… Forest, who clear for a throw-in. We put on late pressure and in the 85th minute and Hayes crosses from the right. The cross hits Byrne, but Martin is alert and gets down well to keep the ball out. The final action of note comes in the 88th minute when Gennaro Riccardi joins Cenci in the book.
Result: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Bebe
Ratings: GK-Spasov (6.9); RB-Rentea (6.9); DCR-Berger (6.8); DCL-Vukovic (6.9); DL-Riccardi (7.0, booked); DMC-Spearing (6.9); MCR-Matip (6.9); MCL-Johnson (6.8, off 70); AMR-Hayes (6.9, A); AML-Varga (6.9); ST-Cenci (7.3, G). Subs-Michel (6.9, on 70). Unused-Wilkinson, King, Mason, Keane.
League Position: 12th
Despite having marginally the better of the match, we come away with a point. To be fair, we’d have settled for that at the start and my tactical tweaking was all about keeping the game tight instead of trading goals.
The physio reports that Jay Spearing is suffering with a stubbed toe and will be out for 5-8 days. There’s more activity in the loan market, with Bristol Rovers offering to loan Karl Chaplin for 5 months. I accept the offer. There is also a loan deal in the other direction as Manchester United centre-back Luca D’Avanzo joins us for the season.