Re-read Growing the Grecians #101.
After returning from Arsenal, it’s a few days before we’re back in action again and looking for a positive result in front of our fans.
Date: Wednesday 15th November 2017
Opponent: Everton (8th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=5/4, Draw=11/5, Everton=7/4
Weather: Dry, 6C
Referee: Mr. Will Howard
Carmine Mello makes his league debut as Ben Amos receives a rest. We win the coin toss and choose to defend the Big Bank in the first half. Everton kick off and move the ball to Coleman on the right. He runs down the right wing and crosses. The ball reaches Damari, who makes no mistake from 6 yards as he puts Everton into the earliest of leads. Not the ideal start!
With 13 minutes on the clock, Jonny Hayes tries his luck from 20 yards, but it’s a comfortable catch for Wiland. Three minutes later, Sow plays a perfectly weighted ball around the corner and Coleman slots home from 8 yards to double the lead. Or he would have, if the linesman didn’t have his flag up. Offside. We’re still only one down.
Nathan Ake enters Mr. Howard’s book in the 18th minute for a foul on Damari. Before the resulting free kick is taken, I make a change at the heart of the defence with Mick Byrne replacing Jagos Vukovic, who has picked up a knock and can’t continue. Byrne’s entrance brings up his 100th career league appearance.
Sow hits a great effort from 18 yards in the 25th minute. It comfortably beats Mello, but not the post and Fabio Mora clears the ball to safety. Ake is joined in Mr. Howard’s book by Foley in the 29th minute following a foul on Bradley Johnson, who looks to level from 20 yards five minutes later. Unfortunately, he can’t keep his shot down and Wiland watches it over the bar.
The woodwork is rattled again in the 36th minute when Rodwell shoots from 20 yards. Ake is first to the rebound and ensures that the score stays at 1-0. One minute later, Michele Marconi shoots from the same distance. He doesn’t find the woodwork… he doesn’t find the target – it’s wide. Federico Cenci goes closer with a header from 12 yards one minute before half time following a cross by Hayes, but it’s still an effort wide of the target.
Two minutes into first half stoppage time, Everton win a free kick on the right. Young hits a deep free kick in, Barkley pulls the ball back and Damari doubles his tally and Everton’s lead from 8 yards. So they’ve scored with pretty much the first kick of the half and the last kick of the half.
The dressing room is not a place for the faint-hearted at half time as I deliver an aggressive team talk. Think Mike Bassett against Mexico. It certainly gets the troops fired up and Bertin Matip scythes Barkley down in the 46th minute to earn a booking. Mora then brings Sow down three minutes later. He doesn’t earn a booking, but does concede a penalty. Damari steps up to complete his hat-trick. He goes high. Too high! It’s over!
Six minutes into the half, Marconi looks to play provider by playing in Hayes. He’s 8 yards out. He shoots… he misses the target completely. Three minutes later, Rodwell plays in Damari, who does find the net from 8 yards. Thankfully, it’s the side netting and his quest to complete his hat-trick continues. Before Mello takes the goal kick, Lubomir Zapotoka replaces Ake at centre back.
One minute before the hour mark, Matip delivers an outswinging corner to the near post. It finds the head of Cenci 6 yards out and he sends it goalwards. He’s denied by a fine save from Wiland. With 24 minutes remaining, we go in search of goals as Alain Besse replaces Ilica Perak. Besse plays on the left, with Cenci slotting in behind Marconi. Three minutes after the change, Bradley Johnson fires wide from 25 yards. Hopefully it’s a sign that we’re going to apply some pressure.
Our next chance of note (and also the next chance of note in the game) comes with 9 minutes remaining. Cenci hits a first time shot from 10 yards and Wiland makes a smart save in tipping the ball over for a corner. Four minutes later, Matip delivers another outswinging corner. This time, the ball finds Marconi 4 yards out. It’s a chance to set up a grandstand finish, but he only finds the side netting, which surely ends our faint hopes of rescuing a point.
With three minutes remaining, Besse crosses from the left. Cenci is powering into the box like a runaway express train and thunders a header past Wiland from 6 yards. It crashes against the post and Everton scramble the ball behind for a corner. Two minutes later, Marconi cuts the ball back to Cenci, who shoots from 16 yards straight into Wiland’s arms. The final chance of the game falls in the 90th minute, but Coleman fires narrowly over from 16 yards.
Man of the Match: Damari
Ratings: Mello 6.3; Mora 6.8; Ake 5.8, booked, sub 54; Vukovic 6.3, sub 18; Riccardi 6.7; Perak 6.7, sub 66; Matip 6.8, booked; Johnson 6.2; Hayes 6.7; Cenci 6.2; Marconi 6.9. Subs: Byrne 6.8, on 18; Zapotoka 6.8, on 54; Besse 6.9; on 66.
League Position: 16th
The physio reports back on Jagos Vukovic and it’s not great news – he’s out for five to six weeks with a sprained ankle.
Arsenal sack Stake Solbakken. Paul Lambert is made favourite by the media, but there are whispers linking me to the hotseat at The Emirates. The press are accurate and Lambert is duly installed. Meanwhile, at the DW Stadium, their new manager is welcomed – Steve McLaren.
I receive a loan offer for Kye Gibson for one month from Walsall, which I accept and so does he. Kevin Bjerkestrand lengthens his loan spell at Hereford United after they offer an extension that I agree to. Damien Lambert’s loan spell at Oxford United comes to an end and we welcome him back to the club.
Read from Growing the Grecians #1.