Growing the Grecians #56 – Top 6 clash

After our disappointment in the FA Cup, we return to league action.

Date: Saturday 14th January 2017
Opponent: Nottingham Forest (6th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=3/1, Draw=2/1, Nottingham Forest=4/5
Weather: Gusty, sleet, 3C
Referee: Mr. Lee Mason

With Bertin Matip away on international duty with Cameroon for the African Cup of Nations, John-Joe O’Toole makes his league debut for the club. They may be the away team, but Forest start the better. Salak heads over from 6 yards out when unmarked at the far post in the 6th minute and Bebe shoots from 6 yards in the 10 minutes. Jonathan Bond gets down well to save Bebe’s shot, conceding a corner. Jonny Hayes is fouled in the 25th minute and Hanstveit enters Mr. Mason’s book. One minute after the half-hour mark, Federico Cenci lays the ball back to Bradley Johnson and he shoots from 25 yards. It’s a low shot and goes in for his 4th goal of the season. Three minutes later, Hayes is the same distance out but his accuracy is not quite as good as his curling effort hits the post. We’re keeping the pressure on, which is something we’ve struggled with with recently. Michel slips in Hayes in the 35th minute, but his shot from 16 yards is wide. Cenci becomes the second name in Mr. Mason’s book following a foul on Salak in the 37th minute. Forest win a free kick 20 yards out two minutes before half time. Jenas lifts the ball over the wall and narrowly over our bar. Bond is called into action in stoppage time, getting down well to deny Findlay from 12 yards.

We start the second half the better side and two minutes into the half, O’Toole plays in Michel. Michel expertly turns his marker and shoots from 12 yards, but Martin is able to make the save. Michele Marconi enters Mr. Mason’s book in the 49th minutes after fouling Chambers. We’re looking for our second to secure the points. In the 51st minute, Hayes cuts the ball back from the right and Cenci meets is with a header from 6 yards that goes just over. O’Toole’s effort from 20 yards one minute later goes just over. He looks to turn provider in the 55th minute and plays in Hayes – he runs into the area and shoots from 16 yards, but Martin is able to keep the effort out whilst conceding a corner. With our recent form, it feels as though we’re going to be punished for missing good chances. Mr. Mason’s book sees some action with Jenas, O’Toole and Moloney entering it in the 58th, 68th and 69th minute respectively. A shot by Wagstaff from 12 yards goes across the face of the goal in the 80th minute and three minutes later, Salak runs into our area and shoots from 12 yards, forcing Bond to concede a corner. Three minutes later, a diving Bond concedes another corner when Salak shoots from 20 yards. With time running out, I replace Michel with Alain Besse in the 89th minute. It’s his first ever league appearance for us and proves to be an excellent substitution as he plays in Marconi in the first minute of stoppage time; Marconi turns his marker and scores his 10th goal of the season from 12 yards to secure the points.

Result: Exeter City 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Man of the Match: Jonathan Bond
Ratings: GK-Bond (8.5), DR-Zapotoka (7.5), DCR-D’Avanzo (6.9), DCL-Vukovic (7.3), DL-Chaloupka (7.2), MCR-O’Toole (6.9, booked), MCL-Johnson (7.6, G), AMR-Hayes (6.9), AMC-Michel (7.1, sub 89), AML-Cenci (7.7, A, booked), ST-Marconi (7.4, G, booked). Sub-Besse (A, on 89). Unused-Spasov, Rentea, Norwood, Keane.
Attendance: 8,714
League Position: 2nd
Match Stats:

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Although it took us until stoppage time to wrap the points up, we had a bit of luck in front of goal. This was vital, but equally vital was an outstanding performance from Jonathan Bond in keeping a clean sheet. It’s enough to earn him a spot in Team of the Week, with Federico Cenci joining him.

Hull City are concerned that Steve Cotterill will leave them at the end of the season. The media report that if he does, I will be the favourite to replace him.

In the loan market, Mirco Franchini joins Ternana. We welcome back Nathan Holland from his loan spell at Oxford United. Burton Albion make an offer for Frankie Timmins for three months, I accept and he joins. Paolo Palese rejects the offer made for him by Como. Foggia make a loan offer for him following his rejection of Como and he rejects them as well. Millwall, Chesterfield and Plymouth Argyle all offer to loan Tomasz Surowiak until the end of the season and I accept all three offers. Gubbio offer £2,500 to loan Sasha Chirico until the end of the season, another offer I accept and he decides to join them. I also accept a three month extension to Karl Chaplin’s loan spell at Bristol Rovers and so does he. Adolfo Mannino rejects Campobasso, whilst Radek Koblizek joins Hereford United. Cambridge United would like Miroslav Smejkal on loan for three months and I accept their offer and he decides to go. David Goikoetxea is the subject of an offer until the end of the season from Lugo and I agree to the switch. I receive three month extension offers from Stevenage for Declan Warburton and Southend United for Martin Koci and agree to both proposals.

On the transfer front, Metodi Spasov joins Verona for £375,000, which may rise to £475,000. Within 24 hours of him joining them, Jonathan Bond picks up a virus and will be out for 12-14 days. There’s definitely going to be a debut in our next game following the illness to my first choice keeper and the selling of my substitute keeper! Birmingham City offer £300,000 for Alain Besse; I negotiate, asking for £300,000, £1,000,000 over 12 months and 10% of the next sale. Birmingham decide that they don’t want to follow up their interest. Besse is a player I think could be important in our future and I don’t want to sell him to a rival, so I’m not disappointed they don’t agree to my demands.

Dacian Varga will be out injured for 4 weeks with a broken rib, which he picks up in a reserve team game. At the same time, Gennaro Riccardi returns to full training.

The media report that our chairman, Edward Chorlton, could step down sooner rather than later.

Read Growing the Grecians #57.

Read from Growing the Grecians #1.


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