Following our last-gasp winner away from home against West Ham in the league, we remain on the road as we resume out League Cup campaign.
Date: Wednesday 21st September
Opponents: Brighton and Hove Albion
Venue: American Express Community Stadium
Odds: Brighton and Hove Albion=Evens, Exeter City=11/5
Weather: Strong wind, 5C
Referee: Mr. Howard Webb
A changed side kicks off the match at the American Express Community Stadium, with the players who have performed in the first two rounds getting the opportunity to strut their stuff again. Pavel Cizek gets involved in the 6th minute when he trips Lalkovic. Mr. Webb points to the spot and produces a yellow card before Whittingham steps up and shoots low to Metodi Spasov’s right to put Brighton 1-0 up. Not exactly the best start, but we have been finishing matches strong recently with stoppage time goals, so no need to panic. Nine minutes later, Miltos Makris takes an inswinging corner and finds Cizek 6 yards out at the neat post. It’s a perfect chance to make amends for the early penalty, but he heads just over. Whittingham has a great opportunity to double his tally in the 20th minute, but shoots straight at Spasov from 18 yards and he makes a comfortable save. Our second chance of note comes in the 26th minute and is also the result of a corner. Loic Fournier takes an inswinging corner and Philipp Langer shoots. However, because it’s not against West Ham, it doesn’t go in and Brighton clear off the line. A minute later, Florain Koch tries his luck and Hamer can’t hold on, but Brighton are able to clear for a throw. Langer has another chance three minutes later when he shoots from 16 yards. Hamer saves at the expense of a corner and we seem to have Brighton on the ropes. The only downside is that we haven’t scored and if you don’t score when playing well… Langer makes a great pass to Makris in the 39th minute and he runs for 20 yards before shooting from 18 yards. Despite having time, he picks out Hamer and Brighton are able to clear again. The last minute of the first half sees Whittingham take an inswinging corner and Scott Malone turns it in for an own goal. Disaster! But wait! Mr. Webb has blown his whistle and we have a free kick for a foul by Barnes.
The second half starts slowly and the first chance of note comes in the 61st minute when a cross from the left by Cohen finds Lalkovic unmarked at the far post. He shoots from 6 yards, but straight at Spasov. Cohen decides to cut out the middleman a minute later when he shoots from 18 yards. However, much like Lalkovic a minute earlier, it’s straight at Spasov. Mr. Webb takes Fournier’s name in the 63rd minute following a foul. Whittingham crosses from the left in the 64th minute and Rhodes meets the ball 6 yards out with a diving header and scores to extend the lead. We’ve been good at getting back into matches, but normally from a goal down; two will be a big challenge with just over 25 minutes to go. I make a triple substitution in the 70th minute as we start to search for goals; Besse replaces Cizek, Gazzoli replaces Koch and Langer comes off to be replaced by Michele Marconi, making his return from injury. Nine minutes after the change, there’s a goal. Dyer crosses from the right and Lalkovic scores from 4 yards out at the far post to give the hosts a three-goal lead. Four minutes later, an alert Spasov denies Barnes from 18 yards out and holds on to the ball. With five minutes to go, Dyer crosses from the right and finds Lalkovic again. He’s 10 yards out this time, but the result is the same and he gets his second of the match. Dyer crosses from the right again in the 89th minute, but doesn’t find Lalkovic this time. He finds Eagles instead. He heads in from 4 yards out. Gazzoli shoots just wide in stoppage time, but even if it had gone in, it wouldn’t have been much of a consolation.
Result: Brighton and Hove Albion 5-0 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Lalkovic
Ratings: GK-Spasov (5.8), DR- Judge (5.7), DCR-King (4.7), DCL-Karlsen (5.3), DL-Malone (5.2), DMC-Fournier (6.4, booked), MCR-Mason (6.6), MCL-Cizek (6.1, booked, off 70), AMR-Koch (6.9, off 70), AML-Makris (5.7), ST-Langer (6.9, off 70). Subs-Besse (6.4, on 70), Gazzoli (6.3, on 70), Marconi (6.1, on 70). Unused-Bond, D’Avanzo, Riccardi, Spearing.
It’s difficult to take many positives from such a large defeat, but at least Marconi has made his return and got 20 minutes of football into his legs. We were punished heavily for not scoring when on top and Brighton certainly did not make the same mistake, scoring when dominating around the hour mark and taking full advantage of our capitulation in the last 10 minutes when crosses from Dyer unlocked our defence time and again. The regular first team players have all enhanced their standing by not being involved, whilst nobody else has really staked any kind of a claim for a place in the starting XI at the weekend.