After a dull draw at home, we head back on our travels as we seek to get back to winning ways.
Date: Saturday 17th December 2016
Opponent: Barnsley (24th)
Odds: Barnsley=4/1, Draw=5/2, Exeter City=4/7
Weather: Breezy, 8C
Referee: Mr. Mike Dean
Although we’re away from home, playing the team bottom of the league seems an excellent chance to get back to winning ways. Michele Marconi is making his 200th career league appearance, so a couple of goals from him in a comfortable win would seem to be the perfect way of marking his milestone.
Barnsley make the better start and in the 16th minute, Rossi looks to chip Jonathan Bond from 20 yards. He lifts the ball over Bond, but also over the bar. Twelve minutes later, Bradley Johnson fouls Vela and has his name taken by Mr. Dean. Mr. Dean’s book is in action again two minutes later when Rossi fouls Lubomir Zapotoka. Our first chance of note comes in the 32nd minute when Jonny Hayes crosses from the right. He finds Federico Cenci at the far post, but his header from 6 yards goes wide. It’s a great chance and one I hope we don’t come to regret. Silva hits a thunderous effort from 8 yards in the 39th minute. Either side of Bond and it’s a goal. He puts it to Bond’s left, but a stunning reflex save keeps the scores level. Silva does find the net 2 minutes later, but the linesman’s flag is up. We seem to be hanging on and hopefully we can hang on until half time. We can’t. Roman crosses from the right in the 45th minute and the ball hits D’Avanzo; it falls to Rossi and he makes no mistake from 6 yards.
My half time words don’t have an instant impact, with our first chance of note of the half coming in the 64th minute. Chance is actually being quite generous as Marconi’s effort from 20 yards is well over the bar. I make a double substitution before the goal kick is taken – Will Keane replaces Marconi, whilst Jan Pavlov is replaced by Michel as I replace our defensive midfielder with an attacking one as we seek an equaliser. Three minute later, Hayes shoots from the same range as Marconi. His shot doesn’t go over – it goes wide AND over. Scott Malone enters Mr. Dean’s book in the 69th minute following a foul on Hunt. Mills looks to extend Barnsley’s lead and wrap up the points in the 73rd minute, but Bond is able to tip his effort from 12 yards around the post for a corner. Michel manages to keep his shot from 20 yards down in the 75th minute, but he’s unable to get it on target and it goes wide. With 10 minutes to go, I bring on Dacian Varga for Malone as we seek an equaliser, but we can’t create anything further.
Result: Barnsley 1-0 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Hunt
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.9), DR-Zapotoka (6.7), DCR-D’Avanzo (6.8), DCL-Vukovic (6.8), DL-Malone (6.2, booked, sub 80), DMC-Pavlov (6.7, sub 64), MCR-Matip (6.9), MCL-Johnson (6.7, booked), AMR-Hayes (6.9), AML-Cenci (6.9), ST-Marconi (5.8, sub 64). Subs-Michel (6.7, on 64), Keane (6.4, on 64), Varga (on 80). Unused-Spasov, Rentea.
League Position: 1st
A toothless performance against the side bottom of the league. We didn’t look like scoring and struggled to create chances, never mind any concerted pressure. It’s a third game without scoring as well and we’ve suddenly gone from scoring quite freely to being incredibly goal shy.
Bradley Johnson’s booking is his fifth of the season and he will be suspended for the next game.
It’s a time of news at right back. Victor Fernandez (the manager of Betis) was in attendance and the media are reporting that he was scouting Lubomir Zapotoka. Dennis Judge tears his hamstring in training and will be out for three months.
In the wider footballing world, Gareth Southgate takes the job at Rotherham. Goal.com reports that Christian Bruls will join us for £475,000. As with Sciacca, he isn’t on my shortlist (although is much closer to my price range).