After the international break, we return to league action with a trip to Lancashire.
Date: Saturday 15th October 2016
Opponent: Blackburn Rovers (10th)
Venue: Ewood Park
Odds: Blackburn Rovers=11/5, Draw=11/5, Exeter City=Evens
Weather: Dry, 10C
Referee: Mr. Steve Tanner
Two of my starting eleven reach milestones; Bradley Johnson makes his 100th league appearance for us, whilst Jonny Hayes makes his 275th career league appearance. In the second minute, Valkucak crosses from the right and it reaches the far post where Goodwillie slides in and scores from 2 yards out. So much for the friendly against Manchester City to keep the players match sharp! Our first attack of note comes in the 19th minute; Johnson plays in Federico Cenci, who scores his 9th goal of the season from 6 yards after beating the offside trap. Dacian Varga’s name enters Mr. Tanner’s book in the 24th minute following a foul. Johnson looks to mark his 100th appearance for us with a goal, but his shot from 20 yards in the 31st minute goes just wide. Mr. Tanner takes a second name in the 44th minute – Smith, after a foul on Johnson. There has been little of note in the first half; Blackburn have probably had the better of the game, but we came into it more as the half went on. Evidently, both teams are getting rid of the ring rust from the international break.
Lubomir Zapotoka becomes the third name in Mr. Tanner’s book in the 50th minute and one minute later, Scocco fires just over from 20 yards. Two minutes later, Hayes takes a free kick from the right and Johnson rises highest and marks his 100th league game for us with his 4th goal of the season (and 19th goal for the club) from 6 yards with a good header. Blackburn look to respond instantly and Goodwillie snaps a shot off from 30 yards two minutes later, but it goes wide. The game is definitely becoming more open as a minute later, Hayes has a go from 25 yards. His effort is closer, grazing the outside of the post. I continue Michele Marconi’s comeback from injury in the 69th minute, with Cenci making way for him. Goodwillie continues to threaten and cuts in from the left in the 76th minute before unleashing a fierce shot from 10 yards that Jonathan Bond saves. Johnson has his name added to Mr. Tanner’s book in the 79th minute after a foul on Smith. Maybe a bit of revenge for the tackle before half time! One minute before full time, Scocco takes an outswinging corner. Crofts rises. He heads the ball from 16 yards. Bond catches comfortably. There is just time for Mr. Tanner to take one more name – a foul on Hayes sees Limbersky find his name in the book.
Result: Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Bradley Johnson
Ratings: GK-Bond (7.6), Zapotoka (6.9, booked), DCR-D’Avanzo (6.9), DCL-Vukovic (5.5), DL-Riccardi (7.0), DMC-Spearing (6.9), MCR-Matip (6.9), MCL-Johnson (8.1, G, A, booked), AMR-Hayes (7.4, A), AML-Varga (6.9, booked), ST-Cenci (7.2, G, sub 69). Subs-Marconi (6.5, on 69). Unused-Spasov, Karlsen, Michel, Keane.
League Position: 1st
Not a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s another win and one that takes us top. We have Bradley Johnson to thank for it as he seems to have dragged us to victory – quite a way to mark your 100th league appearance for a club. In fact, the performance gets him named in Team of the Week. Hopefully we’ll be better next time out.