An impressive performance at Sheffield Wednesday – will Jonathan Bond actually have something to do this time?
Date: Saturday 25th February 2017
Opponent: Norwich City (18th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=Evens, Draw=11/5, Norwich City=11/5
Weather: Dry, 12C
Referee: Mr. Neil Swarbrick
We get an early warning in the 5th minute when Sokolowski shoots over from 12 yards. Four minutes later, Jonny Hayes shoots from 6 yards and Bogdan turns it away for a corner. Oliver Norwood takes the resulting corner and it swings out to the head of Michele Marconi who is 6 yards out at the near post and he scores his 11th goal of the season for a good start for us. Djuric has a chance to level for the visitors in the 12th minute when he’s 6 yards out, but Bond saves. He can’t hold on. Lubomir Zapotoka to the rescue! He slides in and concedes a corner. Jonny Hayes shoots just wide from 20 yards in the 15th minute. A minute later, there’s a mix-up between Halford and Bogdan – Marconi slides in from 18 yards, but Bogdan is able to get back and save the ball on the line. In the 34th minute, Norwood scores his first ever goal for the club and it’s a stunner. An unstoppable curling shot from 30 yards. What a way to open your account! Nine minutes later, Norwich pull one back, but it’s not as stunning a strike – an unmarked Djuric heads an inswinging Hamad corner in from 6 yards at the near post. Bradley Johnson looks to score again against his former club in the 35th minute, but his shot from 25 yards whistles just over. Marconi has a similar result when shooting from 20 yards 2 minutes later. Hayes achieves the hat-trick of shooting over in 39th minute when he runs into the area and shoots from 16 yards. Hamad’s shot from 16 yards in the 40th minute is on target, but Bond saves and holds. With three minutes until half time, Norwood swings a corner in and Marconi meets it with his head 6 yards out at the near post. It’s just over this time.
Norwich start the second half looking for an equaliser and Sidwell’s shot from 20 yards in the 51st minute goes narrowly over. Two minutes later, there’s a scramble in our area and we’re eventually able to put it behind for a corner. Alain Besse shoots just wide from 12 yards in the 62nd minute as we look to re-establish a two-goal lead. I make my first substitution in the 63rd minute, bringing on Jay Spearing for Johnson as I look to be a bit more defensive in the middle of the park. Marconi shoots just over again in the 68th minute, this time from 18 yards. One minute later, Djuric shoots over from 16 yards. Michel replaces Federico Cenci in the 70th minute. Another outswinging corner by Norwood in the 76th minute sees another effort go over the bar; this time, it’s a header from Besse 6 yards out at the near post. Campbell fires just wide from 16 yards two minutes later as chances continue to come for the visitors. With seven minutes to go, I replace Norwood with Bertin Matip to give us two natural ball-winners in the middle of park and see the game out with no further scares.
Result: Exeter City 2-1 Norwich City
Man of the Match: Oliver Norwood
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.9), DR-Zapotoka (6.9), DCR-Berger (6.9), DCL-Vukovic (6.9), DL-Riccardi (7.7, A), MCR-Norwood (8.4, G, A, sub 83), MCL-Johnson (6.2, sub 63), AMR-Hayes (7.2), AMC-Cenci (6.9, sub 70), AML-Besse (6.9), ST-Marconi (7.5, G). Subs-Spearing (6.7, on 63), Michel (6.8, on 70), Matip (on 83). Unused-McCarey, Rentea.
League Position: 2nd
A game with plenty of chances and one that we deserved to shade. Both teams scored from a set-piece, with the winner being a stunning strike. It’s another important three points for us.
Giuseppe Sannino, the manager of Parma, was in attendance and watching Federico Cenci.
Luton Town offer to loan Charlie Hollett for a month, I accept and he joins them. I also receive a loan offer for Nathan Holland from Yeovil Town and accept the offer.
The League Cup is heading to the West Midlands as Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers beat League 1 Crawley Town 5-2 in the final.
The end of the month sees awards. Federico Cenci is February Player of the Month – he averaged 7.76 and scored 5 goals. Kenny Mulready (Bristol City) is named Young Player of the Month. Hristo Stoichkov (Cardiff City) wins Manager of the Month. Goal of the Month goes to Oliver Norwood for his stunner against Norwich. It’s worth a look:
And what Bogdan faced:
In League 2, Busao (on loan at Bristol Rovers) is named Young Player of the Month, with Rob McNally (also on loan at Bristol Rovers) coming 3rd.
Julian Tagg completes his takeover of the club. There are no plans for any investment to the club.