After a lacklustre (to put it politely!) display at Elland Road, we return to home comforts. Hopefully we will give the home fans something to be happy about.
Date: Saturday 16th September 2017
Opponent: Wolverhampton Wanderers (13th)
Venue: St. James Park
Odds: Exeter City=5/4, Draw=11/5, Wolverhampton Wanderers=7/4
Weather: Gusty, 18C
Referee: Mr. Mike Dean
Gennaro Riccardi leads the team out on his 75th league appearance for the club in a game described as a relegation six-pointer. A slow start to the game springs into life in the 11th minute; Bradley Johnson passes to Jonny Hayes and he coolly slots home from 8 yards. He wheels away in celebration, arms aloft. They instantly drop as the linesman’s flag is up for offside and the away fans groans turn to jeers. Three minutes later, Mpoku crosses from the left and we switch off completely at the far post and Boudebouz has a simple finish from 6 yards. We search for the linesman’s flag to rescue us. The search is in vain and the visitors take the lead.
At the 20 minute mark, David Bentley unleashes a curling shot from 18 yards out. It’s across the face of the goal and is curling back. It doesn’t come back enough and goes wide. Three minutes later, Hayes crosses from the left and it’s cut out by a defender. But Bentley robs him! He’s 6 yards out. He shoots. He s… ees his shot parried by Steele and cleared for a throw. We take the throw and Wolves gain possession. They start a counter. It reaches Fletcher on the halfway line. He gets to the edge of the penalty area and slots calmly under the onrushing Ben Amos to double the lead of the visitors. A real suckerpunch and we’ve been heavily punished again.
Fletcher has his name taken by Mr. Dean on the half hour mark for a foul on Nathan Ake. Elm looks to extend the lead of the visitors in the 32nd minute, but his shot from 16 yards only finds the side netting. Mr. Dean takes Bertin Matip’s name in stoppage time for a foul on Elm.
We haven’t played too bad, but we’ve been punished heavily for switching off. A few strong words at half time will hopefully see the lads keep the pressure on and not switch off. Seven minutes into the half, an inswinging Matip corner is met by Federico Cenci six yards out at the near post. He powers a header goalwards, but Mpoku is well positioned on the near post and heads to safety. A minute later the same two combine, but this time Cenci is denied by Steele, who gets down well and holds onto the ball.
Cenci fouls Mogstad in the 56th minute and picks up what seems to be his customary yellow card. Riccardi looks to mark his milestone a minute before the hour mark, but his effort from 30 yards goes just over the bar. On the hour mark, Michel is fouled by Petrovic and Mr. Dean’s yellow card makes another appearance. Michel is unaffected by the foul and a minute later, shoots from 8 yards. Steele is equal to the shot and although he can’t hold on, Wolves are able to clear. The 63rd minute sees a corner fall to Johnson 2 yards out at the near post. It’s a tight angle, but he gets a shot on goal. It’s going in, but Mogstad is on the line and able to maintain the two-goal lead for the visitors.
We’re piling on the pressure and I make my first change in the 65th minute; Rainer Breu replaces Bentley. Breu plays as striker, Cenci moves to the left wing and Hayes switches to the right wing. The substitution has an almost instant impact. Riccardi crosses from the left in the 67th minute and Breu scores his 3rd of the season from 6 yards. Game most definitely on!
Michel shoots from 20 yards in the 72nd minute and the side net is in action. A minute later, Johnson and Hayes combine, but Steele parries Hayes’ shot from 8 yards. The rebound falls to Hayes and his second effort is deflected wide for a corner. Surely we’re going to find an equaliser?
In the 79th minute, Matip takes an outswinging corner. Cenci meets it with his head 6 yards out at the near post. It’s in! His 3rd of the season! We’ve levelled! He turns away in celebration and runs towards the packed Big Bank that’s celebrating. Eleven minutes to find a winner.
With nine minutes to go, Johnson plays in Michel. He finishes from 10 yards for his first of the season in front of an ecstatic Big Bank. What a comeback! We’ve just got to keep our heads now an… disaster! The linesman has his flag up. Offside. It’s still 2-2 and the Big Bank have plenty of suggestions for the linesman.
Michel looks to turn provider in the 84th minute and sends a delightful through-ball for Breu. Steele is alert and just gets to the ball ahead of Breu. Steele looks to start a counter with a quick ball upfield but we win it back. It ends up with Breu 30 yards out. He looks up and unleashes a fierce shot. Steele is just about equal to it and is able to tip it over for a corner. With two minutes to go, Cenci passes to Breu and he shoots from 12 yards. Steele parries and Wolves clear to keep the score level. There’s just time for a final chance in the 90th minute; Breu crosses from the left and finds Hayes at the far post. He’s 6 yards out and heads goalwards. The Big Bank holds its breath. It’s… a magnificent diving save by Steele, who somehow gets across the goal and tips the ball over for a corner.
Result: Exeter City 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Man of the Match: Boudebouz
Ratings: GK-Amos (6.8), DR-Zapotoka (6.1), DCR-Ake (6.0), DCL-Vukovic (6.7), DL-Riccardi (7.1, A), MCR-Matip (7.6, A, booked), MCL-Johnson (7.3), AMR-Bentley (6.2, sub 65), AMC-Michel (6.9), AML-Hayes (6.9), ST-Cenci (7.7, G). Sub-Breu (7.4, G, on 65). Unused-Mello, Mora, Jenkins, Norwood, Hrubesch, Olivier.
League Position: 14th
The late drama sees the fans emotionally exhausted. To be fair, they’re not the only ones! Certainly an entertaining game.
We receive month-long loan offers for Valery Tamitu and Kevin Bjerkestrand from Wrexham and Doncaster Rovers respectively. Both accept and move. Luton Town offer to loan Abraham Leggett for a month and I ask for the ability to recall him, which Luton refuse to accept.
Read Growing the Grecians #87.
Read from Growing the Grecians #1.