Inspired for the League Cup

After our defeat against Liverpool, we turn our attention to the League Cup.

Date: Tuesday 29th August 2017
Opponent: Colchester United (15th in League 1)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City-2/5, Colchester United=13/2
Weather: Dry, 13C
Referee: Mr. Howard Webb

It’s a sign of how we’re developing as a club that we enter the competition at the Second Round for the first time ever. We’re definitely starting to be seen as a big scalp now. Which is a concern for this game, as Colchester have won 4 of our 8 games and we only have one victory. Showing that I’m adapting to the Premier League, I make eleven changes, resulting in debut appearances for Carmine Mello, Matthew Jenkins and Harry Maguire. Federico Cenci is given express orders to not even enter the ground as I fear that he’ll managed to get booked even watching the game.

The changed XI settle well and in the 2nd minute, Oliver Norwood takes a free kick from the right. The head of Maguire meets the ball 8 yards out. The ball hits the bar and bounces over for a goal kick. Two minutes later, a Rainer Breu shot from 25 yards goes just over the crossbar.

We’re piling the pressure on and make the breakthrough in the 7th minute. Michel passes to Breu, who is 18 yards out. He shoots with the outside of his left boot and scores his first ever goal for the club. It’s a pretty decent effort for a first goal and endears him to the fans immediately.

Kutka runs through our defence in the 12th minute and shoots over from 12 yards. It’s a reminder that Colchester are still in the game and we need to not assume the job is done just because we have scored.

The warning is heeded. Marcel Hrubesch passes to Michel, who beats a defender. He shoots from 12 yards and fires his shot into the roof of the net for his first goal of the season. A really important second goal and puts us in complete control of the tie.

Kutka looks to pull a goal back for the visitors in the 17th minute when he shoots from 18 yards. Mello is able to parry the ball and we clear. A minute later, Breu shoots from the same distance and Townsend makes a diving save at full length before Colchester clear the ball for a throw.

Jonny Hayes crosses the ball from the left in the 23rd minute. It’s an accurate cross and met by Breu. He’s 8 yards out. He heads the ball. And watches it wide of the target. A third goal could have really opened the floodgates, but it was not to be.

Fabio Mora enters Mr. Webb’s book in the 26th minute for a foul on the ever-dangerous Kutka. Adriano Gazzoli picks the ball up on the halfway line in the 29th minute and runs down the right. He crosses the ball and the cross finds Michel running in at the far post. He’s 6 yards out at the far post, but can’t get on top of his header and it goes over. If I could have picked a player attacking the ball to head it in, it would not have been Michel; Breu would have been my player of choice.

Spicic crosses from the left in the 31st minute. Mello is just off his line, but spills the ball. We recover quickly from the surprise spill and clear from the danger zone. With five minutes of the half remaining, Norwood passes to Michel. He turns a man and fires into the roof of the net for his second goal of the season with a carbon copy of his first strike.

The second half gets off to a slow start and eleven minutes in, I take off the carded Mora for Abraham Leggett to make his debut; three minutes later, Norwood is replaced by Renzo Francioni, who also makes his debut for the club.

A minute after the hour mark, Michel picks out Breu and he attempts a lob. He lifts the ball over Townsend, but it falls wide. Moments later, Breu shoots just over from 20 yards. Spicic is brought down in the 65th minute and Mick Byrne enters Mr. Webb’s book.

I make my final substitution in the 67th minute. Philipp Langer replaces Michel. Langer plays as the striker, with Breu dropping back into the attacking midfield role. Four minutes after my final substitution, Baxter shoots from 16 yards. It beats Mello, but not the post and we watch it bounce to safety. It’s unlikely that it would have altered the result, but a clean sheet would be nice.

Breu hits a curling effort from 30 yards in the 77th minute. Townsend is diving at full stretch and is able to just get his fingertips to it to tip it over for a corner. With seven minutes remaining, Hrubesch plays a delightful through ball. Langer gets to it first, but his shot from 10 yards is smothered by the onrushing Townsend. The loose ball falls to Breu and he rolls the ball into an empty net from 16 yards for his second of the game and season. There’s just time in stoppage time for Okuonghae to enter Mr. Webb’s book for a foul on Hayes.

Result: Exeter City 4-0 Colchester United
Man of the Match: Michel
Ratings: GK-Mello (7.4), DR-Mora (7.2, booked, sub 56), DCR-Byrne (7.5, booked), DCL-Maguire (7.5), DL-Jenkins (7.6), MCR-Norwood (7.1, A, sub 59), MCL-Hrubesch (8.4, 2A), AMR-Gazzoli (7.3), AMC-Michel (9.4, 2G, A, sub 67), AML-Hayes (7.2), ST-Breu (9.3, 2G). Subs-Leggett (6.8, on 56), Francioni (6.7, on 59), Langer (6.8, on 67). Unused-Bond, Vukovic, Dubois, Makris.
Attendance: 6,797
Match Stats:

Colchester #FM12

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An excellent performance and result. Everyone who came in played well, although it was against a team two leagues below us so I was expecting a strong performance. It’s a good indicator of how far we’ve come as we were in League 1 when I took over. The draw for the 3rd Round will see us at home again. It’s likely to be a bigger test, with Tottenham Hotspur the visitors.

Greppi rejects the loan move to Nocerina, whilst Miltos Makris joins Portsmouth on a season-long loan. Hopefully it will aid his development. Daniel Berger is also looking to move and hands in a transfer request. It will be a shame if he goes, but I accept the request.

The end of the month sees the first awards made. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Liverpool) is Player of the Month (well-deserved following his performance against us!), Angleo Winters (Tottenham Hotspur) is Young Player of the Month and Filip Djuricic (Manchester City) wins Goal of the Month. Manager of the Month heads to Merseyside, with Liverpool’s Rafael Benitez scooping the award.

We may have kept Jim White and company busy throughout the summer with our ins and outs, but there’s no late drama or deals and the reporters leave with no story on transfer deadline day. It was a busy window though…

Summer 17 window

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A sign(ings) of things to come?

I hit the ground running at TNS and add some members to my backroom staff, which was looking a bit thin on the ground when I took over (apart from on the physio front). A couple of job adverts pay off and I’m pleased to announce that Mario Colucci (scout), Paul Reilly (youth coach), Chris Adamson (GK coach) and Graham Potter (coach) have all joined.

On the playing front, I look to have inherited an excellent player in Joseph Oastler

Star TNS player #FM

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However, the problem is that he is my best centre back, right back, defensive midfielder and central midfielder. As cloning is not an option, it looks as though pre-season is going to involve finding out how I can get him in the team so we are at our most effective.

I have added to the squad so that we can (hopefully!) mount a title challenge for the upcoming season. With the team lacking in creativity, I start with a signing in the obvious position: goalkeeper. Well, it stands to reason that if we’re going to become more creative and attacking, there might be a gap or two at the back that wasn’t there before, so it’s not going to hurt having a good goalkeeper. Andrew McNeil is the man brought in on a free after having been released by Partick Thistle.

New goalkeeper

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Youngster Bagsan Graham is quickly snapped up after having been released by QPR. He’s an attacking midfielder/striker and is only 18 years old. Might need a bit of work on his passing, but his finishing and composure look promising (hopefully a few goals!) and he brings that all important creativity to the team.

AM/Striker

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Irish striker David Mooney also joins us. Mooney had been released from Reading, but had spent time on loan at Colchester in the previous season. Over his career, he’s scoring around 1 goal in 3, but I’m hoping that with a regular run in a side, he’s going to do better than that. What should help is that he’s likely to be our penalty taker.

Striker

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I had been on the verge of signing Zambian left winger Clifford Mulenga, but in the end he decided on the delights of Hamilton. A disappointment, but we will continue to look to strengthen. The fixtures are due out in the next few days, so I can get pre-season properly sorted out and my players up to match fitness ahead of our opening game.