After our recent struggles in the league and a less than inspiring performance at Leeds, we turn our attentions to the FA Cup.
Date: Saturday 7th January 2017
Opponent: Cambridge United (6th in League 2)
Venue: Abbey Stadium
Odds: Cambridge United=4/1, Draw=5/2, Exeter City=4/7
Weather: Sleet, 1C
Referee: Mr. Paul Hutton
I name a strong side, looking to give our attacking players a boost in confidence in front of goal. I hand debuts to two new signings, with the midfield being comprised of Oliver Norwood and John-Joe O’Toole. Lasse Karlsen enters Mr. Hutton’s book in the 8th minute after fouling Wilding. Never ideal for a centre back to pick up a card so early into a game. The first chance of the game comes in the 11th minute. Proctor shoots from 10 yards and Metodi Spasov makes the save, with the clearance being completed at the expense of a throw. Michele Marconi joins Karlsen in Mr. Hutton’s book in the 29th minute following a foul on Abalimba in the 29th minute. Our first chance of note comes in the 37th minute when Alain Besse shoots from 20 yards. The shot is straight at Mowthorpe and an easy catch for him. Lubomir Zapotoka becomes the 3rd name to be taken by Mr. Hutton when he fouls Wilding in the 42nd minute. One minute later, Abalimba takes an inswinging corner and Wilding is on hand at the near post to score from 6 yards out. Not the ideal way to end the half!
Two minutes into the second half, Michel takes an inswinging corner and Besse is at the near post, 6 yards out. It’s a carbon copy of Cambridge’s goal, except Besse’s header hits the bar and is cleared by Cambridge. Besse is looking the most likely to get us back in the game and shoots over from 20 yards in the 62nd minute. Before the goal kick can be taken, I replace Marconi with Federico Cenci. Three minutes later, we win a free kick 25 yards from goal. Cenci steps up. It’s over the wall. It’s over the bar. One minute later, he shoots from open play, 18 yards out. Unfortunately, he picks out Mowthorpe who makes an easy save. Abalimba shoots wide from the same distance in the 74th minute. With 14 minutes to go, Adriano Gazzoli shoots from 16 yards, requiring Mowthorpe to make a good diving save. Cambridge clear, but only to the 18 yard line where Norwood is waiting. He shoots and it goes just wide. It would have been a great way to mark his debut, but it’s not to be and Cambridge see the game out.
Result: Cambridge United 1-0 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Abalimba
Ratings: GK-Spasov (6.7), DR-Zapotoka (6.9, booked), DCR-Karlsen (6.9, booked), DCL-Berger (6.7), DL-Chaloupka (6.8), MCR-O’Toole (6.5), MCL-Norwood (6.6), AMR-Gazzoli (6.7), AMC-Michel (6.3), AML-Besse (6.7), ST-Marconi (5.7, booked, sub 62). Sub-Cenci (6.8, on 62). Unused-Bond, Vukovic, Fournier, Mason, Varga, Keane.
I had no hope of winning the Cup and it’s nice that we can now just concentrate on the league and trying to win promotion, but I was expecting a better performance. It was a dull game and any neutrals would have struggled to tell that there is two leagues between the clubs. I hold a team meeting straight after the match as our recent performances have not been at the standard we’d been used to before December.
Juan Carlos Mandia, the manager of Cordoba, was in spotted in the crowd. The media are reporting that he was there to scout Alain Besse.
It’s January and transfer activity is well under way. George King accepts a contract from Middlesbrough and the transfer is completed. Birmingham must be aware of Cordoba’s interest in Alain Besse and offer £200,000 for him, but I reject the offer. He immediately requests negotiations for a new contract, which I turn down as he’s been with us for less than a year (and has 30 months left on his current one) and is hardly a regular in the starting line-up. West Ham United offer £50,000, £230,000 over 30 months and 20% of the profit from the next sale for Will Keane, an offer that I reject. Lubomir Zapotoka is the subject of an £800,000 and 20% of the profit of the next sale from Aston Villa and it’s another offer I reject. I also reject an offer of £325,000 for Metodi Spasov from Sampdoria. He’s unhappy and wants to leave the club, so I offer him to clubs. Verona offer £120,000, £250,000 over 36 months, £100,000 after 20 games for the club and 10% of the next sale for him and I accept. I reject Modena’s offer of £140,000, £40,000 over 36 months, £100,000 after 20 games from the club and 10% of the next sale. I stall on Sassulo’s offer of £20,000, £250,000 over 36 months, £100,000 after 20 games and 10% of the next sale. I also stall on Reggina’s offer of £65,000, £250,000 over 36 months, £100,000 after 20 games and 10% of the next sale. Queens Park Rangers would like Jan Pavlov and offer £400,000 and 25% of the profit from the next sale, an offer that I reject. After conceding both of the goals he has scored, West Ham United offer to but Philipp Langer; they offer £1,000, £6,000 over 30 months, £1,000 after 10 goals and 25% of the profit from the next sale. I respond by rejecting the offer.
In the loan market, Nathan Holland rejects the offer made for him by Oxford United. Foggia offer to loan Paolo Palese until the end of the season and I accept the offer. He doesn’t accept the offer. As soon as he reject the move to Foggia, Como offer to loan him until the end of the season. I also accept a loan offer from Morecambe for Aaron Walker, who they want to loan until the end of the season. He rejects the switch. This results in our Cup conquerors, Cambridge United, offering to loan him for 3 months. All parties agree and he moves to Cambridge. Ecija and Castellon would like David Goikoetxea on loan until the end of the season and I accept both offers and he rejects both offers. Ternana offer £2,000 to loan Mirco Franchini until the end of the season, another offer I accept. I reject a loan offer from Verona for Alain Besse. They want to loan him until the end of the season and offer £24,000 to do so and can pay £180,000 at any point to make the move permanent. Ivan Byram returns from his loan at Newport County. Bristol Rovers offer to extend Rob McNally’s loan spell by three months – I agree and so does he. I accept a loan offer from Radek Koblizek until the end of the season from Hereford United. Campobasso would like Adolfo Mannino on loan until the end of the season and I accept their offer.
Roberto Carlos Gutierrez Ramos informs me he is prepared to terminate his contract with the club for £65,000, which I reject.