Three and a half weeks after our League Cup thriller against West Ham, we travel to London to take them on in the league.
Date: Saturday 17th September 2016
Opponents: West Ham United (1st)
Venue: Boleyn Ground
Odds: West Ham United=4/7, Draw=5/2, Exeter City=4/1
Weather: Dry, 16C
Referee: Mr. Steve Tanner
Catalin Rentea reaches a milestone, making his 25th league appearance for us and in his career. Ten minutes in, Bertin Matip is booked. Ideally, I would not want a defensive midfielder playing the role of ball-winning midfielder booked (especially so early), but he’s been impressive recently. A minute later, Federico Cenci shoots from 10 yards, but Boffin is equal to it. Cenci has another go to break the deadlock in the 28th minute when he shoots from 25 yards. The shot is too hot to handle for Boffin and he spills it, but West Ham are able to clear for a throw. West Ham’s first chance of note comes in the 31st minute when Stephens shoots from 20 yards. He beats Jonathan Bond, but not the post and Rentea is on hand to clear the ball for the safety of a throw. Five minutes before half time, Bradley Johnson unleashes an effort from 30 yards and it goes narrowly over. Cole shoots from closer range (18 yards) in stoppage time, but it’s little more than catching practice for Bond.
Johnson opens up the action in the second half with another effort from outside the box, shooting from 25 yards in the 48th minute. He’s able to keep the shot down, but unfortunately it’s straight at Boffin who saves easily. Cenci enters Mr. Tanner’s book in the 64th minute following a foul. West Ham take the free kick and slide the ball in for Cole. Jagos Vukovic is alert to the danger and slides in. He avoids fouling Cole and gets to the ball first. Unfortunately, Bond was rushing out and Vukovic’s touch sends the ball past him into the net for an own goal. Faubert picks up a yellow card in the 73rd minute after fouling Dacian Varga, but unfortunately we can’t use our free kick as profitably as West Ham did theirs. Time is running out and in the 76th minute, I make a double substitution; Michel (making his 225th league appearance) replaces Jay Spearing, whilst Philipp Langer comes on for Cenci. We create a chance immediately, but Boffin gets down well to deny Varga from 16 yards in the 78th minute. Two minutes later, Matip takes an inswinging corner and Langer meets it at the near post with his head. It’s in! The equaliser! It’s Langer’s first league goal for us and his second goal of the season. His previous goal? In that League Cup thriller against West Ham. Lightning does strike twice! And what an impact sub! A minute later, Scott Malone enters Mr. Tanner’s book. In the 90th minute, Mujachi meets an inswinging corner with his head 10 yards out. It goes just wide and the scores stay level. Three minutes into stoppage time, Hayes gets into the area and Coulibaly jumps in to a tackle. Mr. Tanner’s whistle blows. He points to the spot! Penalty! A chance to win it! Varga puts the ball down on the spot. He shoots to Boffin’s right. Boffin dives to his right. But it’s out of his reach. It’s in! Varga has won it for us in stoppage time with his first goal of the season! West Ham kick off. They go down the right and cross it in. Anderson meets it at the far post. He heads it from 6 yards out and… it rattles the bar! We clear and Mr. Tanner puts the whistle to his mouth and blows for full time. Another match full of excitement against West Ham.
Result: West Ham United 1-2 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Jonny Hayes
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.9), DR-Rentea (6.9), DCR-Karlsen (6.9), DCL-Malone (6.9, booked), DMC-Spearing (6.7, off 76), MCR-Matip (7.1, A, booked), MCL-Johnson (6.9), AMR-Hayes (7.6, G), AML-Varga (7.2, G), ST-Cenci (6.7, booked, off 76). Subs: Michel (on 76), Langer (7.4, G, on 76). Unused: Spasov, King, Koch
League Position: 10th
It was a bit of a late show, but the stats show that we had the better of the game. We put in an excellent away performance, limiting their chances. I would have settled for a point before the game, so am absolutely delighted with the late winner, although the immediate counter attack from West Ham from the kick off brought back memories from our last gasp equaliser against Portsmouth.
The Rangers manager, Ally McCoist was amongst the 31,898 in attendance at the Boleyn Ground. He’s rumoured to be keeping an eye on Bradley Johnson, who didn’t have his best game but showed that he’s prepared to shoot from distance. Newport County offer to loan Ivan Byram for a month and all parties agree to the deal.