19th September 2009
Tranmere Rovers (Home)
Exeter City 2 Tranmere Rovers 1. Saturday 19 September 2009.
The Moxey Report
On a warm afternoon at the Park, City were good value for their first home win of the season beating Tranmere Rovers 2-1 in front of a decent crowd of 4,901 supporters.
City lined up: Jansson, Seaborne, Archibald-Henville, Taylor, Duffy; Noone, Harley, Russell, Stewart; Stansfield, Fleetwood.
For the first time this season manager Tisdale opted for a more conventional 4-4-2 formation with jet heeled strikers Adam Stansfield and Stuart Fleetwood up front instead of a lone striker in his more preferred 4-5-1 formation, However, it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, particularly in the sixth minute. The City defence were caught flatfooted as Tranmere took a quick free kick just outside the box, but Oscar Jansson in the City goal was alert enough to palm Thomas-Moore's threaded shot around the post. But it was City who opened the scoring, and in fine fashion too. In the 25th minute Fleetwood was tussling with a defender near to the corner flag when Craig Noone pounced and smashed the ball across the face of goal. Stansfield nodded goalwards at the near post, and despite the keeper taking the sting out of it was on hand to guide the loose ball home to make it 1-0 City. Three minutes later Stansfield thought he'd scored a second when latching on to Noone's superb defence splitter, but as the keeper came out Stansfield clipped the ball over him and unfortunately the bar by the narrowest of margins.
Into the second half and it was more of the same: Tranmere huff and puff and little else, City in control and comfortable with it. In the fifth minute a good spell of possession ended with a rather tame Ryan Harley shot from distance that he dragged wide, but five minutes later City's endeavour was rewarded with a much deserved second goal. Just inside the Tranmere half Fleetwood pulled off the most outrageous turn to set Noone on his way, and from the edge of the box he let fly with a real fizzer of a daisycutter. The keeper and a defender made a right hash of trying to clear and the ever alert Stansfield was on hand to gleefully crash home the loose ball from a couple of inches out to make it 2-0 to City. Tranmere pulled one back midway through the half when Michael Ricketts rose highest at the far post to nod home a flicked on long throw, and that was the signal for Tranmere to at last try to get something from the game. Three minutes later Barry Corr was introduced at the expense of the hard running Fleetwood, then on the half hour City had a couple of good chances to put the game firmly beyond Tranmere's reach. First the ball was played down the line for Noone to whip in at the near post where Stansfield somehow contrived to poke the wrong side of the post, then Corr drove majestically down the right before cutting in and dancing across the face of the box to lay off for Harley. His measured low drive beat the keeper all ends up, but a defender was on hand to scoop the ball away to safety from the base of the post. With ten minutes to go there was real controversy when Noone went down injured with City in good possession midway into the Tranmere half. Once replaced by Rob Edwards, the referee signalled a drop ball which everyone assumed would be played back to Jansson. City didn't contest the drop ball, yet rather than playing it back, pint sized substitute Chris Shuker, amidst a cacaphony of boos from three sides of the ground, drove down the touchline before crossing into the box. Thankfully the ball was cleared, but not before some quite vociferous protests from a number of City players. City were rattled for some time after this, so with five minutes remaining Tisdale introduced some added bite in midfield to help shore things up as Bertie Cozic took to the field at the expense of the exhausted Stansfield to see things out. And see things out he and the team did as City thoroughly deserved their first home win of the campaign. Sorry Tranmere, but if you're going to play unsporting tactics like that at a drop ball, coupled with wearing the singularly most awful away kit I think I've ever seen - a sort of lime green ran in the wash type affair- then you deserve exactly what you got today: absolutely nothing. But take nothing away from City, at times today, especially in the first half, they looked superb. Jansson had very little to do in goal, and in front of him Troy and Taylor had the ineffective forwards - Ricketts in particular, I've never seen such a big bloke spend so much time on the floor - in their pockets all aftermoon. In midfield Harley continues to improve as an all round footballer. Not only does he always seem to have time and space either with or without the ball, but nowadays he can tackle too. And not just stick your leg out stuff either, these are proper man's tackles. Beside him on the left Craig Noone had a fine home debut, and always looked dangerous going forward, as did the effervescent Adam Stansfield up front. It's good to see him back from injury looking sharp and hungry.
BBC match summary and information
Two goals from Adam Stansfield earned Exeter their first home win of the season and heaped more pressure on Tranmere boss John Barnes. Striker Stansfield capitalised on a defensive mix-up to turn in a Craig Noone cross for his first. Stuart Fleetwood then sent Noone clear and his initial shot was saved, but Stansfield was on hand to tap in. Michael Ricketts headed one back from a long throw but Rovers still went down to their sixth straight league defeat.
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale told BBC Radio Devon:
"We desperately needed the three points. Those watching could tell by the way we performed. We were good at times and edgy at others. "At this stage of the season, with points already so important, I'm not going to be too proud to say we'll take anything. "There are one or two players who over the last few weeks have become more and more important to us and I'm very happy that Craig Noone did so well."
Tranmere Rovers boss John Barnes told BBC Sport:
Referee: David Phillips
Attendance 4901 with 216 away fans.