After victory last time out, we continue our league campaign and travels.
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016
Opponent: Crystal Palace (23rd)
Venue: Selhurst Park
Odds: Crystal Palace=7/2, Draw=9/4, Exeter City=4/6
Weather: Dry, 8C
Referee: Mr. Mike Jones
It’s a game of milestones for some familiar faces. Jonathan Bond is making his 125th career league appearance. Gennaro Riccardi makes his 50th league appearance for us, whilst Michele Marconi makes his 75th league appearance for us. Lets hope we can mark the three milestones with three points.
The first chance goes the way of the home side in the ninth minute. Dikguoci hits an effort from 20 yards, but Bond is equal to it. Five minutes later, Jonny Hayes takes a free kick from the left and aims for the back post. Palace have evidently switched off or decided that an unmarked Jagos Vukovic has no chance of scoring from 6 yards. Whichever it is, Vukovic capitalises fully and scores his third goal of the season. Scannell, who always seems to play well against us, beats the offside trap in the 17th minute. He’s one-on-one with Bond. The goal is inevitable. He coolly slides the ball under Bond from 18 yards. And watches in horror as he puts it wide. I’m amazed as he’s usually lethal against us. But I won’t complain! I’d be amazed if he misses another chance, so a second goal would be useful. Marconi looks to double our lead in the 24th minute, but his shot from 30 yards goes just over. Three minutes later, Marconi acts as provider for Federico Cenci, who shoots from 20 yards. The shot goes just wide. We’re piling the pressure on though. We win a free kick in the 29th minute. It’s 30 yards out and Hayes goes for goal. What a wast… what a goal! He thunders it in for his second goal of the season. Palace look to hit straight back, but Williams’ effort from 20 yards is just over the bar. Lubomir Zapotoka crosses from the right in the 36th minute and Cenci is 6 yards out. Larsen Kwarasey is on his toes and smothers Cenci’s effort before Palace clear to safety. They’re still on the ropes. Five minutes before half time, Hayes plays a long ball over the top. Ramage has the situation under control and dawdles back. Marconi recognises this and gives chase, beating Ramage to the ball. He slots under an onrushing Larsen Kwarasey from 16 yards and into the net for his second of the season and a perfect way to mark his 75th league appearance for us. In the second minute of stoppage time, Vonlanthen takes an outswinging corner to the far post. Beasley outjumps Bradley Johnson. His header from 12 yards is going in. And it would if it hadn’t been for Zapotoka on the line, who clears to keep our three-goal lead as the half-time whistle goes.
It’s been a perfect half away from home and we’re surely marking the milestones with three points. Eight minutes into the second half, Williams slips the ball through our defence. Oh dear. It’s Scannell. He’s 16 yards out. He inexplicably shoots wildly wide. Not a performance so far for his career highlights DVD, which makes a change. Ten minutes later, it’s Cenci’s turn to slip a ball in. Marconi picks it up and slides it just wide from 18 yards. Williams has a great chance from 10 yards in the 65th minute, but it’s straight at Bond. He can’t hold on to the shot, but recovers his parry to preserve the clean sheet on a milestone appearance. I make my first substitution in the 77th minute with Will Keane replacing Marconi. Vukovic picks up a knock just before the substitution. Two minutes later, he gets beaten to a ball by Scannell, but his shot from 12 yards goes wide. Vukovic is struggling, so I replace him in the 80th minute with Lasse Karlsen. The final action of note comes in the 82nd minute when Hayes shoots just wide from 12 yards.
Result: Crystal Palace 0-3 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Jonny Hayes
Ratings: GK-Bond (7.1), DR-Zapotoka (7.5), DCR-D’Avanzo (7.7), DCL-Vukovic (8.4, G, sub 80), DL-Riccardi (7.5), DMC-Spearing (7.2), MCR-Matip (6.9), MCL-Johnson (7.0), AMR-Hayes (9.0, G, 2A), AML-Cenci (8.0, A), ST-Marconi (7.7, G, sub 78). Subs-Keane (on 78), Karlsen (on 80). Unused subs-Spasov, Michel, Varga.
League Position: 1st
The second half was a bit of a non-event, but we’d sewn the points up in the first half with a stunning performance. Granted we’re top and Palace are one from bottom, but we were away from home and controlled the game. It certainly helped that Scannell had a stinker, but a great victory for us.
The physio reports on Jagos Vukovic and it’s no wonder that Scannell was able to beat him to the ball as he picked up a thigh strain that will keep him out for 2 weeks. Better news from the game against Palace is that Jonny Hayes and Federico Cenci get named in Team of the Week.
A few players go out on loan for a month: Mirco Franchini goes to Cheltenham Town, Bruno Pierrat goes to MK Dons, Millwall take Daniel Paxton and Raif Boric goes to Bath City.