Three more vital points in our quest for promotion in our last match at Middlesbrough; a win this time out would be a massive boost in our chase for automatic promotion.
Date: Saturday 25th March 2017
Opponent: Brighton and Hove Albion (6th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=1/2, Draw=13/5, Brighton and Hove Albion=9/2
Weather: Breezy, Wet, 16C
Referee: Mr. Eddie Ilderton
Another game described as a promotion showdown! Bradley Johnson makes his 125th league appearance for us, whilst Jonny Hayes makes his 300th career league appearance. If we can make it a day to remember to them, we can take a massive step towards automatic promotion; a bad day and it may be the play-offs again.
Alain Besse shoots from 16 yards in the 3rd minute, but Hamer gets down quickly to save at the expense of a corner. Six minutes later, an inswinging corner from Faouzi Aaish is met by the head of Lelo 12 yards out and we require the bar to come to our rescue. Lalkovic crosses from the left in the 14th minute and Palenkov, sliding in, puts Brighton in the lead from 8 yards out. Federico Cenci looks to get us straight back in the game by turning Reid and shooting from 20 yards in the 18th minute, but Hamer tips over for a corner. Besse plays in Hayes in the 23rd minute and he marks his milestone by finishing from 12 yards. Or he would mark his milestone with a goal if the linesman’s flag wasn’t up. Hayes was a fraction offside. Oliver Norwood takes an outswinging corner in the 35th minute and Cenci meets it with his head 6 yards out at the near post but is unable to keep it down. Hayes shoots over from 25 yards in the 38th minute and then tests Hamer from 18 yards a minute later; Hamer can’t hold, but Brighton clear. Two minutes before half time, Johnson shoots from 30 and is denied by the post.
We could have done without half time as we seemed to be building up a head of steam. To be fair to the players, they don’t let it affect them much and within a minute of the half starting, Brighton have to clear for a throw after Hamer parries a Cenci effort from 12 yards. Two minutes into the half, Cenci heads over from 6 yards. Surely we will make the breakthrough. Nine minutes into the half, Michel feeds Besse, but he can only shoot wide from 16 yards. With 29 minutes left, Cenci takes a free kick from the left and finds an unmarked Jagos Vukovic at the far post. He’s 4 yards out and scores his 5th goal of the season to pull us level. Three minutes after equalising, we’re in the lead. Reid brings down Cenci and Mr. Ilderton has no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Cenci steps up and fires low to Hamer’s left for his 26th goal of the season. The lead is short lived as in the 71st minute, a Cohen cross from the right is headed home from 8 yards out by Lalkovic. 19 minutes for either team to find a winner and record a massive victory. With 13 minutes to go, Michel shoots from 25 yards. The net ripples! He’s don… no, he hasn’t; it’s side netting only. Hayes passes to Besse in the 80th minute, but Besse can only fire his shot from 16 yards wide across the face of the goal. The final chance falls in the final minute. It falls to Hayes. He’s 20 yards out. He shoots. It’s wide.
Result: Exeter City 2-2 Brighton and Hove Albion
Man of the Match: Federico Cenci
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.7), DR-Zapotoka (6.7), DCR-D’Avanzo (6.1), DCL-Vukovic (7.3, G), DL-Riccardi (6.5), MCR-Norwood (6.8), MCL-Johnson (6.7), AMR-Hayes (6.4), AMC-Michel (6.8), AML-Besse (6.3), ST-Cenci (8.3, G, A). Unused-McCarey, Rentea, Spearing, Gazzoli, Marconi.
League Position: 2nd
A bit of a strange one. After being behind for a long time, I’m pleased that we avoided defeat. However, we had much the better of the game and Brighton capitalised on a couple of defensive lapses to nick a point. Whilst it was important not to lose to a team chasing us, a win here would have put down a marker to the chasing teams and strengthened our position considerably.
Attilio Tesser was in attendance, watching Federico Cenci again. I’m starting to wonder how he’s able to manage Cagliari when he spends so much time watching Cenci.
Nathan Holland and Dennis Judge extend their loans at Yeovil Town and Newport County respectively.
Leigh Griffiths (Derby County) is named Player of the Month. Young Player of the Month goes to our very own Federico Cenci – he averaged 7.54 and scored 5 goals throughout March. Slaven Bilic (Derby County) is named Manager of the Month. Goal of the Month goes to Katlego Mphela for his effort against us at the start of the month. In League 2, Rob McNally (on loan at Bristol Rovers) comes 3rd in the Young Player of the Month award.