After somehow only managing a draw at home against a chasing Brighton and Hove Albion, we could do with three points this time out.
Date: Saturday 1st April 2017
Opponent: Bristol City (14th)
Venue: Ashton Gate
Odds: Bristol City=6/4, Draw=2/1, Exeter City=13/8
Weather: Dry, 11C
Referee: Mr. Stuart Attwell
Jay Spearing makes his 100th league appearance for us. It’s a bit of a slow start, but the game springs into life in the 14th minute when Jonny Hayes shoots from 18 yards. The shot hits the post and the rebound is headed back to Gerken by a defender. Federico Cenci receives the ball with his back to goal in the 21st minute. He expertly turns his marker, but his shot from 10 yards flies harmlessly over the bar for a goal kick. 28 minutes in and Bradley Johnson plays in Cenci, who scores his 27th goal of the season from 12 yards to put us into the lead. Cenci is involved in the action again in the 39th minute when he fouls Cranie and enters Mr. Attwell’s book. He reacts to the booking well, immediately passing to Alain Besse who scores his 4th goal of the season from 16 yards. In stoppage time, Cenci looks to repay the favour to Johnson by setting him up. Johnson shoots from 18 yards and Gerken parries. Besse reacts quickest and gets to the rebound, but can’t keep his header from 8 yards down.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Conneely has name take by Mr. Attwell for a foul on Besse. Bristol City’s first chance of note comes in the 69th minute, but Mulready’s shot causes no panic to Jonathan Bond who watches it sail over his bar. Before the goal kick is taken, I replace Cenci with Michele Marconi in a straight swap. Five minutes after being introduced, Marconi is given the ball by Hayes. Marconi shoots from 16 yards and it requires a good low save by Gerken to keep the ball out, although he does concede a corner in doing so. With seven minutes to go, Mulready shoots from 25 yards again, but this time it goes wide. Elliott’s name is taken by Mr. Attwell in the 85th minute for a foul on Johnson. With three minutes to go, Conneely is 16 yards out. He shoots. He drags it wide across the face of goal. In stoppage time, our defence is replaced by the Keystone Cops. The ball falls to Vukovic in our area and he launches a clearance upfield. Or at least he would have if he hadn’t hit a team mate in the head. The ball loops up. Bond has it covered. An easy catch. But he drops it. Pitman is the beneficiary, grabbing a consolation goal from 1 yard out.
Result: Bristol City 1-2 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Federico Cenci
Ratings: GK-Bond (6.9), DR-Zapotoka (7.1), DCR-D’Avanzo (6.9), DCL-Vukovic (6.9), DL-Riccardi (7.0), DMC-Spearing (6.9), MCR-Norwood (6.9), MCL-Johnson (7.2, A), AMR-Hayes (6.9), AML-Besse (7.5, G), ST-Cenci (8.1, G, A, booked, sub 69). Sub-Marconi (6.4, on 69). Unused-McCarey, Rentea, Michel, Gazzoli.
League Position: 2nd
A deserved win and only a set of bizarre circumstances managed to deny us a clean sheet. The two first half goals proved to be enough and we were comfortable throughout.
Jose Antonio Comacho, the manager of Xerez, was in attendance. He was watching Lubomir Zapotoka.
The Man of the Match award for Federico Cenci was his second in two matches. It was also his 8th of the season, breaking Petar Zlatinov’s club record of 7. His yellow card was also his 10th of the season and he will miss the next two games as a result. Losing our leading scorer who seems to score every match feels like it could change the course of our season. Especially as our next match is against table-topping Birmingham City…