The international break means that we haven’t had the chance to follow up on our massive victory immediately, but when we do return to action, it’s important to use the momentum gained before it.
Date: Saturday 19th November 2016
Opponent: Bristol City (9th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=4/6, Draw=9/4, Bristol City=7/2
Weather: Drizzle, 7C.
Referee: Mr. Eddie Ilderton
After 4 points in two away matches, we return home. The match sees Bertin Matip, fresh from his international debut for Cameroon, make his 50th league appearance from us. We look dangerous straight away. Michel threads the ball through in the 2nd minute and Jonny Hayes runs onto it. He’s facing a tight angle, but shoots on target, forcing Gerken to concede a corner. Bristol City’s first chance of note comes in the 18th minute. There’s some good build up play and Skuse shoots from 16 yards, putting it just wide. The first half produces nothing else of note until the 44th minute. We keep the ball well and move the defence around, with a chance being worked for Federico Cenci. He shoots from 12 yards, but can’t keep over the shot and it clears the bar. There’s still time for one more chance in the half. In the second minute of stoppage time, an outswinging Matip corner is met by the head of Cenci at the near post. He heads goalwards from 6 yards out, but Bristol City block the ball, putting it behind for another corner.
It was a pretty dull and uneventful first half, but hopefully we’ve shaken any cobwebs out and can play better in the second half. Hayes crosses from the right in the 57th minute, but Kilkenny cuts it out. Whilst he was sharp to cut the danger out, Cenci is even sharper, robs him of the ball and shoots from 16 yards. Bristol City block the shot, but Cenci pounces on the rebound and registers his 12th goal of the season from 12 yards. Bristol City win a throw deep in our half in the 62nd minute. We win the ball and counter. Hayes slides in Michele Marconi, but his shot from 18 yards is tame and easily saved by a grateful Gerken. Two minutes later, Skuse takes a shot from 18 yards, but it’s at a comfortable height for Jonathan Bond, who makes a routine save. Cenci remains a menace to Bristol City and picks the ball up on the halfway line in the 68th minute. He runs into the area, electing to shoot from 6 yards out. Gerken saves, but can’t hold on. The rebound falls to Michel, who is 10 yards out. He can’t get his effort on target and our lead remains at one goal. Hayes, who has also been a threat throughout, shoots from 25 yards out in the 81st minute; it goes a fraction wide as the Bristol City goal seems to be living a charmed life. I just hope it won’t come back to haunt us. Two minutes after Hayes’ effort, I replace Michel with Jay Spearing to try and see out the game. It’s Spearing’s 150th career league appearance and it’s a successful one as we see out time.
Result: Exeter City 1-0 Bristol City
Man of the Match: Federico Cenci
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.8), DR-Zapotoka (7.3), DCR-D’Avanzo (7.1), DCL-Vukovic (7.3), DL-Riccardi (7.3), MCR-Matip (7.0), MCL-Johnson (7.0), AMR-Hayes (6.9), AMC-Michel (7.2, sub 83), AML-Cenci (7.6, G), ST-Marconi (6.8). Sub-Spearing (on 83). Unused-Spasov, Rentea, Varga, Keane.
League Position: 1st
We took a bit of time to get going, but the second half was better and we looked more threatening. We could have recorded a more comfortable victory, but did a good job at limiting their chances as we gain another 3 points. It was important to follow up the result at Birmingham, which we’ve been able to do.
Whilst I’m pleased with the result, the Bristol City board are less pleased and sack Gordon Strachan. It’s the second time this season a manager’s been sacked after losing to us. It doesn’t look as though Strachan will be out of work for long as Burnley sack Ian Holloway; although I’m linked with the job, Strachan is made favourite. Bristol City quickly announce Strachan’s replacement, welcoming Sean Dyche as their new manager.
Scott Malone misses a training session and I issue a warning. I can’t afford to have him miss sessions, especially as he could be featuring more regularly as Gennaro Riccardi dislocates a shoulder in training after colliding with Luca D’Avanzo and will be out for 2 months. Competition for places is evidently resulting in competitive training sessions – George King joins the injury list with a bruised head after a late tackle by Bradley Johnson. He will be out for 5-8 days.
I welcome back three players from loan – Mirco Franchini, Bruno Pierrat, Daniel Paxton and Ralf Boric return from their loan spells at Cheltenham Town, MK Dons, Millwall and Bath City respectively.