Our first game in September is a home game, with Portsmouth the visitors.
Date: Saturday 10th September 2016
Opponents: Portsmouth (14th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=5/4, Draw=11/5, Portsmouth=7/4
Weather: Showers, 15C
Referee: Mr Alan Beck
Lasse Karlsen makes his league debut for the club following Luca D’Avanzo’s injury on international duty. Two minutes in and Bertin Matip takes an outswinging corner. Federico Cenci meets it 6 yards out at the near post and gets a good contact, but it’s cleared off the line. A yard to the defender’s right and he’d have had no chance. Hopefully, we can build on that. Bradley Johnson shoots from 25 yards in the 13th minute, but Henderson is able to keep it out at the expense of a corner. Matip takes the resulting corner, swinging one in. Cenci meets the ball 6 yards out at the near post and is more successful this time, scoring his third goal of the season. The lead is short-lived. Three minutes after taking the lead, Berrett passes to Lawrence and he draws the visitor level from 8 yards. Cenci looks to restore the lead in the 21st minute, but Henderson helps his shot from 18 yards over the bar. The first half then fizzles out, with nothing further of note happening.
The second half starts by picking up where the first half left of. The first action of note occurs in the 62nd minute when Matip shoots from 18 yards, but Henderson is able to beat the ball away to safety. I introduce Florian Koch for Jonny Hayes in the 67th minute. Dacian Varga cuts a ball back from the left in the 78th minute, picking out Cenci. He’s 10 yards out and meets the ball on the half-volley, but can only find the post. Portsmouth react quickly and clear the ball to safety. Disaster strikes in the 82nd minute as our captain, Gennaro Riccardi, goes off injured; George King replaces him. The situation gets worse in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Rezek our-runs a dawdling King and lobs Metodi Spasov from 16 yards for the winner. There is still time to be played due to Riccardi’s injury. In the sixth minute of stoppage time, Matip finds Cenci 16 yards out he. He shoots. Henderson saves and then puts the rebound behind for a corner. Matip takes the resulting corner. It’s swinging out. It reaches Johnson at the near post. He lashes the ball into the net from 4 yards for his first goal of the season. We’ve rescued a point! Surely there’s no more time. I’m right. Mr. Beck blows his whistle for full time. Johnson has equalised with the last kick of the match! I’m just grateful that Clive Thomas wasn’t the referee…
Result: Exeter City 2-2 Portsmouth
Man of the Match: Bertin Matip
Ratings: GK-Spasov (6.8); DR-Rentea (6.6); DCR-Karlsen (6.7); DCL-Vukovic (6.6); DL-Riccardi (6.8, off 82); MCR-Matip (9.0, 2A); MCL-Johnson (7.6, G); AMR-Hayes (6.7, off 67); AMC-Michel (6.7); AML-Varga (6.7); ST-Cenci (7.6, G). Subs – Koch (6.5, on 67); King (on 82). Unused subs – Bond, Spearing, Keane.
League Position: 12th
The match stats show that our joy at rescuing a point dramatically with the final kick of the game should never have happened as Portsmouth scored with their only 2 efforts on target, whilst we had nine on target. Henderson definitely kept Portsmouth in the game.
The physio reports on Gennaro Riccardi and he’ll be out for 5-7 days with a bruised rib. Bertin Matip’s two assists and Man of the Match performance in running the midfield gets him in Team of the Week. Burton Albion offer to loan Sasha Chirico for a month. I accept and he makes the temporary switch.