Our poor form continued last time out as our troubles in front of goal show little sign of disappearing.
Date: Saturday 4th February 2017
Opponent: Portsmouth (22nd)
Venue: Fratton Park
Odds: Portsmouth=13/8, Draw=2/1, Exeter City=6/4
Weather: Hail, 1C
Referee: Mr. Anthony Taylor
Jagos Vukovic makes his 100th league appearance for the club, but he’s topped by Michel who is making his 150th league appearance for us. Aaron McCarey is called into action in the first minute when Varney shoots from 8 yards, but he’s equal to the shot and holds on. Jonny Hayes finds the net from 12 yards in the 5th minute, but unfortunately it’s the side netting. Ten minutes later, Hayes picks the ball up on the halfway line and elects to shoot from 16 yards; Henderson is able to tip the ball wide for a corner. At the 21 minute mark, Michel shoots from 25 yards, but it gets deflected to Federico Cenci. He’s 8 yards out and coolly slots home, but the linesman’s flag is up. Offside. It looks like being another of those days again. Bradley Johnson plays in Cenci in the 28th minute. The flag stays down. He shoots from 10 yards. It’s underneath Henderson and in for his 17th goal of the season. Two minutes later, we’re two up – Michel plays in Cenci and he shoots from 16 yards. It’s not another goal for him as Henderson saves, but the rebound falls to Alain Besse who rolls the ball into an empty net from 18 yards for his first goal for the club. Two minutes later, it’s three! Oliver Norwood plays in Cenci and he hits a powerful shot from 18 yards for his 18th goal of the season. In the 38th minute, a Vukovic cross from the left is deflected to Hayes and he scores his 4th goal of the season from 12 yards. I’m not sure where this has come from, but it’s very welcome! Two minutes before half time, Ghilas shoots wide from 18 yards.
Eight minutes into the second half, Besse plays in Cenci. He’s 12 yards out and shoots, but Henderson denies him his hat-trick with a save. One minute before the hour mark, an outswinging Norwood corner is met at the near post by a diving header 6 yards out from Cenci; Henderson blocks the header and Portsmouth scramble it clear. In the 68th minute, Cenci takes a free kick from 20 yards out. It’s over the wall. It’s dipping. But not enough. It hits the bar. The ball comes off the bar, hits Henderson’s back and goes in for an own goal. With 20 minutes to go, Michele Marconi replaces Michel and Cenci drops back to playing in the hole as Marconi plays up front. Rezek shoots from 18 yards in the 74th minute, forcing McCarey into a good save before we complete the clearance. I bring on Loic Fournier for Johnson with 14 minutes to go to try and limit Portsmouth’s chances. The final action of note comes in the 80th minute when a curling Hayes effort from 25 yards forces a great save from Henderson at the expense of a corner.
Result: Portsmouth 0-5 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Federico Cenci
Ratings: GK-McCarey (7.7), DR-Zapotoka (7.9), DCR-D’Avanzo (8.1), DCL-Vukovic (8.6, A), DL-Riccardi (8.2), MCR-Norwood (8.1, A), MCL-Johnson (8.0, A, sub 76), AMR-Hayes (8.2, G), AMC-Michel (8.2, A, sub 70), AML-Besse (8.5, G), ST-Cenci (9.7, 2G, A). Subs-Marconi (6.7, on 70), Fournier (on 76). Unused-Bertolucci, Rentea, Keane.
League Position: 4th
We’ve perhaps been a bit unfortunate in front of goal for the past couple of months, but we found our shooting boots today. A four-goal salvo in 10 first half minutes secured the game for us. It’s certainly nice to be amongst the goals again and hopefully it can be a platform for us to build upon and get our campaign properly back on track. Aaron McCarey, Jagos Vukovic and Gennaro Riccardi all make Team of the Week following our excellent win.
Hull City are concerned that Steve Cotterill may leave at the end of the season; if he does, the media make me favourite to replace him. The Football League Paper report that we’re in the process of appointing a new chairman.
I make three free transfer signings: