27th February 2010
Brighton & Hove Albion (Away)
1st March 2010
Southampton Reserves (a)
Jim Shepherd reports from The Withdean
Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Exeter City 0
From the moment Andy Marriott was injured in the warm up, to be replaced in the starting line-up by Paul Jones, you could have been forgiven for thinking. that it maybe wasn't going to be City's day. That the team did little to warrant anything going their way, underlined what a poor day it was for Paul Tisdale's team as Brighton ran out deserved 2-0 winners at the Withdean. With a rare start for Neil Saunders and a first start for on loan Marcus Haber City lined up: Paul Jones, Steve Tully, Matt Taylor, Rob Edwards, Scott Golbourne, Saunders, Ryan Harley, Richard Duffy, Liam Sercombe, Marcus Stewart, Haber.
To say the game got off to a laboured start would be an understatement. Save for Brighton forcing a couple of corners and a shot high and wide there was little of note. However, it was noticeable that the home side were the ones on the front foot and City were finding it difficult to gain much quality possession or get the ball up to Haber. And that was pretty much the pattern of the game. Brighton looked dangerous on the left through Lualua especially, and Tully was left exposed on occasions which didn't bode well. The home side had the ball in the net on 26 minutes after Jones had made the first real save of the match from close range, but the linesman's flag ruled out the goal for offside. But it was only a moment's reprieve for Exeter. From the previous free kick Brighton attacked and earned a corner. It was swung in form City's right and Elphick rose unchallenged 6-yards out to head in off the upright. The remainder of the half was played in the same fashion. Stewart, returning after injury, was rarely in the game, Haber was finding space at a premium, the midfield weren't able to find any rhythm and consequently the back 4 were coming under increasing pressure. When they had time to play balls out though they were not finding their target and Brighton would be on the front foot again. Jones made one excellent save in the 40th minute. A free kick was fired across goal towards the far post no striker got a touch but Jones reacted superbly to stick out a foot to turn the ball round the post. The half ended with City still on the back foot, but without Brighton keeping any sustained pressure. But at least they had threatened and broken the deadlock so the ball was very much in City's court for the second half. And they came out with a purpose. The tempo seemed better and City gained their first corner. It didn't amount to anything but the signs, briefly, were positive. Until Edwards was penalised, and booked, for a foul on 49 minutes. The ball was floated towards the 18 yard box and headed away. It only found Gary Dicker 30 yards out and central. The ball fell perfectly for him to execute an exquisite volley over Jones to put the hosts 2 upIt was a stunner, in every sense, even from the distance of the away end. As the game went forward the pattern of the first half re-emerged. On the hour Richard Logan replaced the ineffective Stewart and finally City had their first shot in anger as Sercombe fired wide from 20 yards. Then Stuart Fleetwood and James Dunne came on for Haber and Duffy and some neat passing got Logan into the penalty area. But the angle was against him and he could only slide the ball into the side nettingI will mention Brezovan in the home goal at this point as narrowing the angle was about the first real work he'd needed to do all game. Brighton didn't need to, and weren't, pressing much. In between a couple of substitutions Taylor had a penalty appeal turned down as he looked to shoot inside the penalty area. The game then started to stretch a little as City left gaps for Brighton to exploit and Jones had to make another save low to his right. As time wound down City finally made a clear cut chance. Fleetwood and Logan combined to free Tully on the rightHis cross was perfect for Saunders who met the ball 8-yards out centrally with Brezovan scrambling across goal. But he didn't get his technique right and his header went tamely wide. Deep into 4 minutes of added time Fleetwood finally made Brezovan save and Dunne fired the rebound over. The referee soon brought City's miserable afternoon to an end.
Match Day by Kirstie Bowden
I'm writing this sat in some random service station on some random motorway on the way home from Brighton. I'm surrounded by Grecians, all of whom look utterly dejected. It's been a bad day. The signs weren't good on the way up. Marge, chief proponent of the A303 hate brigade had called for its reopening as she was sick of the windy alternative road we'd had to go on as a result (this view had a lot to do with her spilling her coffee down her shirt going round a corner!). The road had an innate nausea inducing characteristic which was only marginally made up by the picturesque nature of the route. When we weren't feeling sick discussion turned to what we wanted from the game. The majority decided they'd settle for a point. I went with 15. I even suggested that we ask the F.A. to install some special Tescos-esque double points scheme for all the points City win for the rest of the season... for
We got to Brighton very early. Unfortunately me and my Mum had seen the sights of the Withdean stadium in under 5 minutes. Think 'Exeter Arena' and you're on the right track (no pun intended)... In the hours that we had to fill before kick-off we were 'welcomed' by the home fans with "I hope you get wet" (there is no roof on the away end), I thought I saw Cliff Richard in the car park (it wasn't) and a home fan kicked off at an official because there was no carvery in the pub. If only that was all we had to worry about.... Once Marge arrived we went off in search of the club shop. We were informed that it was a "cabin" parked on the home end concourse but "it's only temporary". Arriving at the concourse we couldn't see it. A lady selling programmes told us, with more than a hint of exasperation, "it's behind the burger van. It's only temporary. Everything here is only temporary". I think the Brighton fans have some sort of inferiority complex. The sooner they move into their new ground, the better!
Once the turnstiles opened we were all frisked, some more thoroughly than others. I still feel slightly violated! The 'stadium' was underwhelming. To get to it we walked past a long jump pit. The away stand was a temporary stand with rows of seats that wobbled. It made Gillingham look positively decadent. We had to sit at the back as you couldn't see the pitch from the bottom rows. Wherever you sat the pitch was a long, long way away. Considering I'd paid £20 for a ticket it was nothing short of ridiculous. The only consolation was that the home ends were little better.
And so to the game. I'll keep this as brief as possible, mainly because I have spent the majority of the 3 hours since the final whistle consuming my sorrows and I have a chocolate overdose induced headache as a result. The first half saw City and the referee disappoint in equal measure. We left the pitch 1-0 down having played in a manner that seemed worse than the week previous. A spot of group counselling at half-time followed where we tried to convince each other that it would get better. It didn't. In the 49th minute we were 2-0 down. The next 'moment' came when Steve Perryman appeared to be despatched to the stands. I only found this out because the man next to me had a pair of binoculars! By this point I, like many others, was losing the will to live. When James Dunne became our third and final substitute Marge screamed out "WHERE'S MY BERTIE?" which raised a much needed laugh. Borderline hysteria followed with a shout of "I've been to comedy nights that weren't as funny as you" directed at the lino in honour. of (what felt like) his 200th successive mistake. As time ticked down numerous Grecians gave up and started to leave. One commented "I'm going to chuck myself off the top step". A Brighton substitute returning to the dressing rooms took it upon himself to make going down gestures at the away end. When we missed an open goal the cruel home fans chanted "that's why you're going down". With good humour we responded "we're going down with the Brighton". I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that.
March 1st 2010
Southampton Reserves 2 Exeter City Reserves 3
Goals from Craig McAllister, Stuart Fleetwood and James Dunne's long-range effort gave the Grecians a 3-2 win against totesport.com combination league leaders Southampton. James Norwood started for the Grecians after returning from his loan spell at Sutton United, while up front McAllister and Fleetwood were given a chance to impress. Trialist Joe Heath started at left-back while Paul Jones, who started for the Grecians at Brighton, was in goal. Dunne who made a substitute appearance the previous Saturday almost opened the scoring early in the match for the Grecians but his shot hit the postHe made no mistake later in the half when he fired home the opening goal from long range. Former Grecian Dan Seaborne started for the first 45 minutes and shortly after the break the home side drew level, Gary Preen scoring from close range. McAllister then scored a superb effort after being put through by Chris Shepard to help City regain their lead before his knockdown then allowed Fleetwood to score from close range. Southampton scored a late stunner when Tom Dunford's effort flew in off the underside of crossbar before Fleetwood also hit the frame of the goal, but his lob bounced off the crossbar and over.
Paul Jones, Aaron Doble, Scot Bennett, Jack Furzer, Joe Heath, James Norwood, Bertie Cozic, James Dunne, Chris Shephard, Craig McAllister, Stuart Fleetwood.