ECFC 1 - 3 Bournemouth: What Could We Learn?
Exeter City were last night undone by a quality second-half display from Bournemouth and with 10 games left this season I have put together 10 things I hope City can learn from last night's display to take with them into the promotion push. It's a Fantasy Football Manager scenario, what would I do if given Sir Tisdale's hotseat for Saturday's match.
Feel free to add your own below.
1) I don't believe Steve Basham should be one of our first choice strikers on current form. His record this season reads 9 starts, 10 sub appearances, 27 shots, 2 goals, 2 assists, 1 missed penalty and many games where he has completely disappeared. At Shrewsbury he was dreadful and 7 days later he was at it again. Really nice guy but I feel Logan, Watson, Stansfield and McAllister should all start ahead of him.
2) Even the best players make mistakes. Paul Jones has been my player of the season so far but he was at fault for the first goal. I just hope it doesn't damage his confidence and he can bounce back like he did following the huge blunder against Torquay last year.
3) Neil Saunders was poor. He dropped too deep and failed to make up ground when the team were pushing forward. So he ends up hitting crosses from near the half way line which rarely threatened. Sercombe appeared more in the final third during his brief cameo than Saunders had all match. He was very quiet at Shrewsbury and the same again last night. With Manny Panther and Liam Sercombe both stepping in and doing much better jobs than Saunders in the past week, his spell in the starting line-up could be coming to an end.
4) Edwards, Russell and Stewart in the same team leaves us massively short of pace in the midfield area and they seem to slow down every counter attaaaaaccccckkkkk. At times they liked to pass the ball round in tiny triangles in non-dangerous areas with little hope of getting anywhere or progressing forward.
Edwards also had a poor game last night after what by all accounts was said to be a solid display against Luton and this could be the time to give him a rest. I think Russell is just starting to bed into the side and we should give him more time before calling for him to be dropped.
5) We need a fit and on-form Ryan Harley and Richard Logan for the run-in. When we were chasing the game we needed players off the bench who could make an impact. We had Cozic and Seaborne. Let's hope Harley can get back to the form he showed at the start of the season when he was superb and Logan returns to making regular appearances very soon.
6) At Dagenham Logan and McAllister tore their tall and physical defence to shreds while Panther provided real muscle and complemented Harley and Gill well in midfield. We needed a similar combination from the start last night to batter a dogged Bournemouth side who were fighting for their lives. Instead we had too many small, lightweight 'playmakers'.
7) We learnt how one goal can completely change the atmosphere at a football ground. As the teams were heading into half-time the City fans were very vocal, singing about promotion, 'Going up with Tisdale and Yemsy' and heading to Wembley. One howler later and the atmosphere fell flat.
One other issue surrounding some of our support was the flood of people heading to the exits as Bournemouth scored on 86 minutes. I know people have places to go but with 4 minutes left and at least 3 minutes of added time they could have missed out on an epic comeback. Two goals against a team 23rd in the league, at home with say eight minutes to go is anything but impossible. They obviously didn't witness the miracle of Torquay....
8)We can't keep relying on McAllister coming on to rescue games or finish teams off. In my opinion he is too good to be warming the bench almost every game. Although the big man had a shot cleared off the line after coming on, for the first time this season a defence seemed to cope with him. Maybe that's because his marker had spent the previous 70 minutes or so wandering around marking Basham!
9) It's only right for point number 9 to mention Exeter's number 9 Adam Stansfield. Two goals in two games, including a one-on-one that Stanno's been notorious for missing this season, and two great performances have probably cemented his place in the line-up. Ok so he won't be a 20-goal a season striker but he's finally found a little run of form and long may it continue. One final point, did anyone see who flicked on the near post corner for the last gasp goal at Shrewsbury? Yes our number 9...
10) Finally we have to trust Tisdale. Can anyone argue with two Wembley trips in 2 years?! We are gunning for promotion in a season where most people never expected us to. The man will be remembered as an Exeter legend whatever happens and some of the fans should take note. One guy on the Big Bank near us bought a 'Tisdale Out' poster to a game last season.... a game we won 4-0 before heading onto promotion! Home games are tainted by a minority of complete idiots who would rather Buckle snarling and shouting on the touchline than the legend that is Paul Tisdale. Ok so his tactics didn't work last night, take it up with him at the end of the season. You might have to wait until the promotion party has died down though....