Date: Tuesday 1st November
Opponents: Brighton and Hove Albion (10th)
Venue: American Express Stadium
Odds: Brighton and Hove Albion=13/8, Draw=2/1, Exeter City=6/4
Weather: Breezy, wet, 4C
Referee: Lee Probert
It’s a stronger team that takes on Brighton in the league than the one involved in the League Cup fixture. Bertin Matip makes his 50th league appearance. We have the first chance of note in the 13th minute when Bradley Johnson shoots from 30 yards, but Hamer is able to push the ball to safety. Mr. Probert takes Lasse Karlsen’s name in the 15th minute after he fouls Dyer. Novaretti joins him in the book a minute later after a foul on Michele Marconi. Johnson lifts the ball over the top of the Brighton defence in the 18th minute and Federico Cenci picks it up. He tries to lob Hamer from 20 yards, but the effort goes over the bar. We continue to pile the pressure on as we look for the breakthrough. Lubomir Zapotoka crosses from the right in the 24th minute and he aims for the far post. His cross picks out Cenci, who heads over the bar from 8 yards. It’s the last chance of note in the half; Brighton come into the game more, but neither side is able to create anything likely to result in a goal.
The breakthrough comes in the 51st minute. Johnson passes to Marconi. He turns his marker and slides the ball under Hamer for his 5th goal of the season. The lead is short lived. Four minutes after we take the lead, Dyer crosses from the right and Barnes equalises with a header from 12 yards. Lalkovic gets played in behind our defence in the 63rd minute. He steadies himself and shoots from 12 yards. His shot is straight at Bond, but he picks up the rebound. It’s a golden chance, but he puts the rebound wide, shooting across the face of the goal. I introduce Dacian Varga in the 64th minute, with Jonny Hayes coming off – Varga plays on the left wing, with Cenci moving across to the right wing. Marconi enters Mr. Probert’s book in the 65th minute following a foul on Novaretti. Two minutes later, Johnson commits a foul. It’s in the area. Penalty! Barnes steps up. It’s high to Jonathan Bond’s left and he puts Brighton in the lead. Jay Spearing makes way for Michel as I replace a defensive midfielder for an attacking one in the 73rd minute as we hunt for an equaliser. Cenci becomes the fourth name in Mr. Probert’s book in the 76th minute following a foul on Abernoz. Michel turns out to be an inspired substitution. In the 87th minute, he passes to Marconi, who slides the ball under Hamer from 12 yards for his second of the game and 6th of the season to draw us level. Brighton respond to our equalier and Rhodes shoots from 16 yards in the 89th minute. Bond makes a good save, tipping the ball wide for a corner. Five minutes into stoppage time, Eagles shoots from 18 yards, but it goes just over.
Result: Brighton and Hove Albion 2-2 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Michele Marconi
Ratings: Gk-Bond (6.9), DR-Zapotoka (6.9), DCR-D’Avanzo (6.9), DCL-Karlsen (5.7, booked), DL-Riccardi (6.8), DMC-Spearing (6.9, sub 73), MCR-Matip (6.8), MCL-Johnson (6.8, A), AMR-Hayes (6.9, sub 64), AML-Cenci (6.9), ST-Marconi (8.8, 2G). Subs-Varga (6.5, on 64), Michel (6.9, A, on 73). Unused-Spasov, Rentea, Keane
League Position: 1st
Looking at the stats, a draw was probably a fair result. I’d have been happy with a point before the game and am delighted that with five minutes to go, we rescued a point. Marconi was lethal and finished his chances well, which was key to the result. It’s a well deserved Man of the Match award from him and a much better result than our last visit to Brighton.
Millwall offer to extend the loan of Clement Baud and MK Dons offer to extend the loan of Martin Brandt. I agree and so do the players. Bath offer to loan Chris Hjort, I accept and he goes to them.
Ryan Mason is unhappy about his lack of first team opportunities. Unfortunately for him, Michel is ahead of him in the pecking order and showed why when coming on as sub against Brighton, setting up the equaliser.