Growing the Grecians #85 – Giving Gareth Gates something to sing about

After brushing aside Colchester in the League Cup, we turn our attentions back to the League and head up North. Although all our away games see us heading North…

Date: Saturday 2nd September 2017
Opponent: Leeds United (18th)
Venue: Elland Road
Odds: Leeds United=Evens, Draw=11/5, Exeter City=11/5
Weather: Breezy, drizzle, 13C
Referee: Mr. Mike Jones

Those who impressed in the League Cup drop to the bench (if selected) for another match described as a relegation six-pointer. Chamberlain looks to put the hosts into the lead in the 4th minute, but he can’t keep his shot from 20 yards down.

Bertin Matip takes an inswinging corner in the 10th minute. The head of Lubomir Zapotoka, six yards out at the near post, flicks on and Lewis pushes the ball wide for another corner. Matip jogs across to take the corner from the other side. Both hands go up and he swings the ball out towards the near post. Federico Cenci runs onto it and meets it with a header six yards out. Lewis isn’t going to get near to Cenci’s header, but the post denies him the opener and Leeds put the rebound behind for another corner. Matip takes another outswinger to the near post, but Leeds prevent Zapotoka or Cenci meeting it with their head. They intercept and counter. Movsisyvan runs down the left and squares the ball into the area. Wilfried is on hand to sweep the ball into the net from 8 yards and open the scoring. An absolute sucker punch.

We respond well and Bradley Johnson shoots from 30 yards in the 18th minute, forcing Lewis to push the ball away. Ben Amos is called into action six minutes later, making a good diving save when Gosling shoots from 18 yards. Cenci shoots from 25 yards in the 27th minute, but Lewis makes a comfortable catch. Wilfried looks to grab his second in the 31st minute with an absolute rocket of a shot, but Amos is able to put it behind at the expense of a corner. As half time approaches, Hamill shoots from 18 yards and Amos saves. He can’t hold on and Hamill shoots again from 18 yards; Amos saves again for a good double save.

I get the troops into the dressing room at half time and look to fire them up. An early goal would certainly help. And there is an early goal. Unfortunately, it’s for Leeds; Addy curls in a beautiful cross from the left seconds into the half and Lester at the far post makes no mistake from 6 yards out with his header. It’s an outstanding cross and it was all but impossible for Lester to miss.

Nathan Ake brings down Movsisyvan in the 52nd minute and Mr. Jones produces the first card of the game. Bradley Johnson shoots from distance again in the 59th minute. He’s only 20 yards out this time, but it sails wide. Before Lewis takes the goal kick, I make my first substitution as Jonny Hayes replaces the anonymous David Bentley on the right. I make a double substitution 10 minutes later as Rainer Breu replaces Regis Olivier and Oliver Norwood comes on for Johnson. Olivier was playing as a defensive midfielder and Breu, making his 100th career league appearance, drops in behind Cenci, whilst Norwood is a straight swap for Johnson in the middle of the park.

Norwood take a free kick from 25 yards out in the 74th minute, but it goes just wide as we look to pull one back. Four minutes later, Breu feeds Cenci and Lewis needs to be sharp to push away his effort from 16 yards. In stoppage time, Gosling shoots from 20 yards and hits the post. Movsisyvan reacts quickest, he squares the ball from the left and Vokes is on hand to tap home from 6 yards.

Result: Leeds United 3-0 Exeter City
Man of the Match: Addy
Ratings: GK-Amos (6.4), DR-Zapotoka (6.9), DCR-Ake (6.0, booked), DCL-Vukovic (5.9), DL-Riccardi (6.1), DMC-Olivier (6.7, sub 69), MCR-Matip (6.7), MCL-Johnson (6.6, sub 69), AMR-Bentley (5.7, sub 59), AML-Besse (6.0), ST-Cenci (6.8). Subs-Hayes (6.8, on 59), Norwood (6.8, on 69), Breu (6.7, on 69).
Attendance: 27,604
League Position: 15th
Match Stats:

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Another bad result at Leeds, this one a goal worse than our loss when in poor form at the start of the season. I felt as though we had the better of the game, but Leeds were ruthless in front of goal and ran out comfortable winners. It looks as though it could be a long season ahead of us. On the plus side, Federico Cenci has gone a game without picking up a yellow card!

The game against Leeds takes us into the international break. I arrange a friendly to keep players match sharp and we host Manchester United. It’s televised and we run out 3-0 winners. It’s an expensive friendly as Melvin Dubois is forced off injured with a dead leg that will keep him out for 3-4 days and Alain Besse sprains his ankle and will be out for 5-6 weeks. More positive news on the injury front sees Loic Fournier resume full training.

Rochdale offer to loan Jon Rune Svendson for a month, I agree and he moves. I also accept month-long loan offers for Adolfo Mannino and Dariusz Lenartowski from Chestefield and Brentford respectively as two more players leave the club temporarily.

Although the transfer window has closed, free agents can still be signed. And the biggest free agent? Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We’re one of many interested clubs. I know I normally sign young player, but how can I turn down the chance to sign Zlatan. Whilst we’re interested in signing him, he’s not interested in moving to Exeter. He also rejects Everton in favour of signing for newly-promoted Birmingham City.

Read Growing the Grecians #86.

Read from Growing the Grecians #1.


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