Exeter Disappointed to Draw at Colchester
Weston Homes Community Stadium
Exeter City led twice at high flying Colchester but ultimately failed to hold on to the lead.
Clive Platt scored with only four minutes left on the clock to rescue a point for the Essex team. Stuart Fleetwood had opened the scoring for the Grecians early on, but Platt headed in four minutes before the break. But Ryan Harley restored City`s lead on the stroke of half time with a superb free kick.
It`s a sign of how far the team has come that City manager Paul Tisdale was disappointed with a draw at a team who started the day in fourth place. That`s partly because City performed the best they have done all season. City were certainly worthy of a second away victory of season which would have propelled them firmly into the comforts of mid table.
There were fears that the match may not have gone ahead after heavy rain, but the referee thankfully gave the go ahead. City may have been thinking why they can`t play in such conditions every week considering the explosive start they made. One may have thought City would struggle with their intricate passing style. But never underestimate Tisdale and his team. Within twenty seconds Stuart Fleetwood found himself little more than four yards from goal with the goal gaping. But somehow the ball trickled onto the post after a tame shot. With City fans ruing what would have been a dream start, bucking the trend of the lousy starts they have become accustomed to this season, they could hardly believe it when another golden chance came their team`s way. Fleetwood found himself to the left hand side of the goal. This time he got a good strike to the ball with his left foot, but with the keeper soundly beaten, the ball was kept out with the solitary defender back on the line. City were realising that they could pump through balls to Fleetwood without worrying the ball could run through to the keeper. In the sixth minute, it was third time lucky when Marcus Stewart sent Fleetwood through just to the right hand side, and he expertly chipped over the oncoming keeper. And it went in. Finally. An incredible first five minutes.
Inevitably, the home side started to overcome their shocking start, and put Exeter`s back line under some moderate pressure. The two big men up front, Kayode Odejayi, and Clive Platt meant that Aidy Boothroyd`s side were especially dangerous from set pieces. However, City did look relatively assured. That was until, United`s eventual man of the match Marc Tierney got past the on rushing Barr Corr in the right back position to get to the by-line just inside the box. He stood up a cross which was out of reach of the excellent Andy Marriott in goal. The three City defenders were no match for the hungry Clive Platt who powered in from close range. A recollection of thoughts suggested City would take 1-1 going into half time. However, the fan`s mental state was adjusted soon after when Ryan Harley blasted a free kick into the top right hand corner in first half stoppage time.
City were under no illusions that a Colchester onslaught would arrive in the second half, as they aimed to climb into the automatic promotion places. However, in reality it never came. There were a few hairy moments, but not the sustained pressure that was expected. Instead, the Grecians had a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed with little more than ten minutes left on the clock. Adam Stansfield, who had replaced Fleetwood, found himself free on the right hand by-line inside the box, with unmarked support on the far side of the goal. But Stansfield didn`t hit the cross ball hard enough and the Colchester keeper Ben Williams (who was shocking for much of the match) just about manage to keep hold of the ball. Any more pace of the ball and it would either have found the unmarked man to tap into the empty net, or been parried by the keeper for an easy tap in. After that chance, City fans certainly weren`t going to accept the draw. But that`s what they had to take after some sloppy defending. City had a throw-in deep into Colchester`s half, but the City defensive line found itself too high up the pitch. Colchester`s outball fed Platt, who shrugged off the City defence and dispatched into the bottom right hand corner as he entered the box.
That wasn`t the last of the action though. Two minutes from time Medy Elito was sent off after a truly horrendous challenge on Bertie Cozic. The Frenchman was lucky to walk away from the challenge without serious injury. With five minutes of added time, City were in dilemma. Would they go for the victory they undoubtedly deserved, or make sure they don`t somehow throw away the match and pick up a highly credible draw. The Grecians did have one final chance, and it fell to the ideal man. Ryan Harley was set up for a shot just outside the box. However, instead of striking first time with his more potent right foot, he unnecessarily fooled the defenders by feigning onto his left foot. His shot went a couple of feet past the right hand post. Harley would have had a very good chance of scoring by taking the shot first time with his right foot.
Nethertheless, it was a superb performance from Exeter which didn`t get the result it merited. Perhaps the only concern is that City played so well and still conceded two goals. But confidence will be at its highest all season for both the players and supporters. City can be confident in winning next week at a Stockport side who are four points behind City in the final relegation spot.
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