Written by Yard Dog 68
This was definitely a game where we earned a point rather than dropped two - we showed a lot of effort and commitment, but as a consequence we offered little guile going forward and had very few opportunities to score. So very happy with a point - especially as I thought they had snatched a win with the last touch of the game, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Before I say any more about the game, a few things to comment on - firstly, the selection and formation. Clearly the boss is trying to find his right team and tinkering a bit, but I am a bit confused. I’m not sure why he has not been playing Hamer so it was good that he came back into the side. I was bemused that Branger was selected and Mills dropped to the bench, as I would much rather him playing in midfield than Branger (who seemed to have a floating role and was in centre midfield a lot - which is not his position at all). I am never a fan of playing a lone striker up front when playing at home, but get that it was important for us to be more cautious tonight and get our first point(s) of the season.
Secondly, not sure how many of you saw the Assistant Coach (to forever now be known as the Little French Jockey!) giving the home fans some stick and telling them to shout for the team in the last few minutes. Part of me gets where he is coming from, but that seemed particularly rich from him considering we saw and heard nothing from him to encourage the team whilst losing to Crewe. Fans need to encourage the team but equally the team need to give the fans something to be enthusiastic about - and there was little on show for me tonight to get me off my seat. He needs to keep his trap shut and start to do his job better before he starts to have a pop at the long suffering fans sat behind him!
Anyway - onto tonight’s game. I thought we were much more solid with Wheater back and the back four were better - but boy, did Exeter miss some chances - including the one by their little shortarse from a few yards out in the middle of the goal (don’t know how he missed that at all). We offered little going forward, but did have one of the best chances of the night when Mills was very unlucky to see his powerful shot come back off the back of a defenders head on the goal line. We lacked inventiveness and belief going forward (but probably to be expected given that confidence is bound to be low after the start to the season we have had).
I thought the keeper had another good game and was again my MoM - made a couple of important saves and I think his save in the last minute of injury time was crucial as the player who followed up was coming back from an offside position.
Tom has a good game - combative and his distribution was better. He was unfortunate with a couple of forays up front as his final touch let him down each time. For me, one of the first names on the team sheet.
Wheater was a leader tonight - that’s what a captain is there to do (hope Mo was watching). He won everything in the air and showed his experience - crucially not diving in during the second half when it may have given a pen away. Great to have him back and when fully fit will be a great addition for us.
Iacovitti was better tonight - probably helped by the experience along side him. More assured and better positioning. Not great but better.
Ash is clearly not fit and got caught out of position on a number of occasions, but he continues to show glimpses of what he can do - including a great cross in the first half which Branger should have buried.
Sylla - showed good heart and effort, but that is the least I expect from anyone in a blue shirt. His skill levels are not great and his second touch is usually a throw in! But he did a job in front of the back four.
Fage - I think he is going to be ok. Lots of development to do, but he showed great pace and some nice touches, as well as a great engine. He will get better as the season progresses.
Branger - I’m afraid I’ve lost patience with him now. He can do the hard bit and then over-complicated things or takes one too many touches before losing possession or not getting his cross in. This is now a pattern with him and he would not be in my team.
Eagles - a few nice touches but simply not enough to warrant a starting place. He looked totally spent when he came off so he is not fit enough yet, but he shouldn’t be starting games for a while yet. He has to offer more - he was a bit of a passenger for me tonight.
Nepo - one of the better performers but again doesn’t look fully fit to me yet. Like Branger, he flatters to deceive a bit and he simply had to get a shot away when through on goal rather than trying to bring it back in his left foot before losing the chance.
Desire - ran his socks off up front, chasing lost causes and hassling defenders. Little to show for his efforts and must surely be a perfect foil for a big target man. He is too lightweight to play up front on his own, but I think he might do a job for us.
Great to have our first point on the board (not the three point ta I wanted on my birthday), but not an inspiring display which the Little French Jockey should remember next time he wants to shoot his mouth off!