12th August 2008
Football League Cup 1st Round
Exeter City 1 Southampton 3.
Tuesday 12 August 2008.
Ref: Fred Graham
Att: 6471 with 796 away fans
League Cup – Carling Cup – 1st round.
A whopping crowd of 6471 witnessed an entertaining Carling Cup return for City as they pushed a Championship Southampton side all the way on a cool summer evening at St James Park. Ultimately it was the quicker, slicker passing of the visitors that told as they built a 2 goal lead before City scored late to produce a tense finish. But any nerves were put aside as City conceded a penalty deep into added time and bowed out heads held high with a 3-1 defeat.
In one change to the starting line up from Saturday City lined up: Jones, Tully, Seaborne, TaylorFriend, McAllister, Harley, Edwards, Gill, Stewart and StansfieldLogan joined Marriott, Sercombe, Panther and Basham on the bench and with the cup rules changed this season Tisdale was able to name Cozic and Moxey in his 7 substitutes.
The visitors kicked off but it was City who started brightly. Once home debutant Marcus Stewart had won the first tackle of the game City began to put Southampton under pressureMcCallister won an early corner before Stansfield was caught marginally offside as Stewart attempted a knockdown. On 5 minutes an almighty mix up between Bialkowski in the Saints goal and his defence led to a passback being hit beyond him. As the ground held their breath the keeper managed to retrieve the situation and clear. His shaky start continued as he dropped an innocuous ball into his penalty area but no City player was alert enough to capitalise.
Jones was a virtual spectator for the first 15 minutes with only a soft shot that went wide to deal with but as the half neared the midpoint the visitors began to find their feet. After some easy possession Jones had to deal with a 25 yard shot then Friend and Edwards superbly dealt with a swift break as a City corner was cleared.
Harley found himself wide left as City gave as good as they got but his cross flashed across the box and away to safetyBut just before the half hour Southampton scoredA well timed run by ex-Plymouth man Paul Wotton beat the City offside line. As he cut in from the left he laid a ball back to Lee Holmes 15 yards out who scooped the ball beyond Jones' dive into the far corner. It was a little bit out of the blue but didn't dent City's ambition and within a minute McCallister had a drive saved from the edge of the box.
And City continued their positive play. Stewart headed wide before s passage of assured, confident passing led to a cross which dropped to Gill 15 yards outOn his left foot though he couldn't keep his shot on target. Then City's best chance of the half came with 10 minutes to go. Harley, who looked so comfortable on the ball all evening, found himself in space 40 yards out. He cut in from the left and as Stansfield made a right to left run he ran into the vacated space before firing a shot in from 20 yards Bialkowski could only parry but as Stewart roared in and met the rebound a defender somehow got a block in and the threat was gone.
The remainder of the half saw a couple of half chances on each side. Jones saved well at his near post after another swift Southampton passing move from halfway and, after Schneiderlin was booked for persistent fouls on Stansfield, a McCallister header from 10 yards was blocked near the line. As City finished strongly the referee blew for half time and the crowd showed their appreciation for the team's efforts.
As the now seemingly obligatory "You're not number one" chant, aimed at number 28 Bialkowski, signalled the start of the second half the visitors began to show their intent not to let City back inThey were clearly trying to play at a higher tempo and carved out a chance which was blazed wastefully over then shot wide as they took some quick set pieces. The half was not 10 minutes old before City had cleared after a scramble in their own 6 yard box and Jones had denied Holmes a second after an accurate ball had split Tully and Seaborne leaving a one on one. Stern John was introduced to try and increase the lead and within a minute he had fired a good chance over too.
City's potency had become intermittent at this time. Stewart had aimed a looping header towards the far corner after Tully had crossed but gave the ball just too much air and it landed on the roof of the net. On the hour Stansfield fired wide after picking up a ricochet from a poor clearance but these were half chances. The first real chance came two minutes later as Seaborne met a Harley corner but saw his powerful header cleared off the line. Southampton cleared and within seconds had forced Jones into another stop.
A personnel change was called for and Basham replaced McCallister before Harley twice shot wide, the second time deflected. Neat, crisp passing from Edwards and Stewart released Harley again but his cross was cleared behind. From the resulting corner it was again the visitors who broke swiftly and forced another save from Jones.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes City did concede again. A ball from the right back area was played into David McGoldrick. He was allowed to turn and run towards the edge of City's area and as he avoided Taylor's challenge rifled a classy shot low to Jones' right and into the corner of the net.
Tisdale immediately swapped Stansfield for Logan and opted for a more regimented 4-4-2 formation but before making any headwayCity were fortunate not to concede a third as Jones saved from John after it appeared he and Taylor got their wires crossed from a long ball. But Bialkowski showed that City could have hope as he half spilled a Harley effort the seaborne headed over from a free kick after Lloyd James had been cautioned for a foul on Stewart. In a final move Moxey, only just fit enough after his foot injuryreplaced Edwards and it was Moxey who gave City the least their play had deserved. Tully took a long throw which Taylor and Basham battled to flick on. As the keeper jumped on his 6 yard line Moxey leapt higher and flicked the ball goalwards. As it made it's way over the line Wotton's attempt to clear merely hastened the ball's entry into the net and set up a rousing finish.
But City couldn't carve out one gilt edged chance. Gill volleyed wide from 20 yards and Stewart nearly caught the defence napping from a long Friend ball. But as 3 added minutes ticked by Southamton began to take the sting out of the game. They found themselves deep in City's half and after McGoldrick and John exchanged passes on the edge of the area the former was brought down by Seaborne as he covered behind Friend McGoldrick picked himself up and in the last action of the game coolly sent Jones to his right and the ball to his left.
So, City out but definitely not down. Jones showed again what a good shot stopper he is and had no chance with any of the goals. The back four were solid, but, as happened at Darlington, Tully was often worryingly isolated by diagonal balls. All four showed determination to get forward and on another day could each have had a goal or assist. McCallister showed good touch and had chances before his withdrawalGill, Edwards and Harley not only worked hard but set most of City's attacks going and Stewart showed his experience finding space and time to build play. Stansfield, as expected, ran himself into the ground and troubled the Southampton rearguard on several occasions.
But now it's time for league action to return to Exeter. After an encouraging start at Darlington it will be another of the promotion favourites, Shrewsbury who come to townThey won their opener 4-0 so City will need to reproduce their first 2 performances to give themselves a chance. So get yourselves along and back the team as you have done twice so far and be the difference for Paul Tisdale's men.
Exeter: Jones, Tully, Matthew Taylor, Seaborne, Friend, Gill, Edwards (Moxey 82), Harley, Stewart, McAllister (Basham 63), Stansfield (Logan 78).
Subs Not Used: Sercombe, Marriott, Cozic, Panther.
Goals: Moxey 85.
Southampton: Bialkowski, James, Wotton, Perry, Surman, Thomson (John 55), Gillett, Schneiderlin, Holmes, McGoldrick, Lallana.
Subs Not Used: Forecast, Dyer, Hatch, Lancashire, Mills, White.
Booked: Schneiderlin, James.
Goals: Holmes 29, McGoldrick 77, 90 pen.
Ref: Fred Graham (Essex).