26 August 2006
Park Report by ANTONY MOXEY
Saturday 19th August 2005
Exeter City 2 Altrincham 1
So City's unbeaten start continues as they come from behind to beat Altrincham 2-1 on a rain-sodden afternoon at the Park in front of a healthy 3345 loyal supporters. After a Canvey-like downpour of biblical proportions minutes before kick-off, spirits were further doused with the worst possible start. A rather nifty one-two on the edge of the box saw an Alty attacker force a smart save from Rice low to his left. Unfortunately for Rice such was the ferocity of the shot he could only parry it out to onrushing Robbie Lawton who gleefully side-footed home to put Altrincham 1-0 up with barely a minute on the clock. City were clearly knocked sideways by this and couldn't get going at all. It took fully ten minutes to produce anything of note whatsoever, and in the end it amounted to a wild slash wide from Woodards after a rather excellent run from just inside his own half. Almost immediately City were again on the attack, this time with Stansfield skipping past an ugly lunge wide on the left and cutting in towards the goal. With defenders trailing in his wake he shaped to shoot and out came an Alty leg from somewhere. Stansfield and the defender belonging to the offending leg tumbled and despite huge appeals from both the players and, more vociferously, the crowd, the ref was having none of it and waved play on.
Then the second deluge came down and with Noah sharpening his chisel and counting the local wildlife, again City struggled with misplaced passes aplenty and an annoying tendency to fall back on last season's old habits of knocking it long. Still, the rain eventually stopped and City found their rhythm again. A ball from Woodards was flicked nonchalantly into the path of Stansfield from a central Challinor who ghosted past two defenders on the edge of the box. Eventually he found room for a shot which was deflected behind for a corner.
Unfortunately both the ref and linesman were looking, presumably, at something else more important and both signalled a goal kick instead. With half time a mere five minutes away Billy Jones had the chance to swing in another from the right hand side. Chris Todd barged his way through and leapt like a salmon to butt a laser guided missile of an equaliser high into the net with the keeper stranded and parity restored. City ensured they were awake as soon as the whistle went in the second half, not sixty seconds after it, and started much the brighter. After dominating the possession in the first five minutes, the ball found itself at the feet of Mackie who in turn fed Challinor. He deftly cut inside two defenders on the edge of the box before trying to curl the ball into the far corner. Unfortunately the shot lacked any real pace and the keeper enjoyed a good early feel of the ball. As with the first half - but without the rain - City then decided they'd had enough and fell to pieces. Long hop hoofs, misplaced passes and non existent tackling became the order of the day until midway through the half when they changed their minds and reverted to football again.
Stansfield and Buckle made way for Phillips and Moxey. Little over a minute later Cozic took to the field at the expense of Woodards. On Tuesday night the substitutions seemed to lift City; today it appeared to do the opposite and for the next ten to fifteen minutes the game fragmented badly.
City weren't content with a point though, and as the Alty time wasting frustrated more, so City gradually fought their way back to their earlier dominance. This was manifested by most of the action happening at the Alty end, and with time running out a deep, deep Challinor cross was met at the back post by the lurking Deano whose fierce downward header was somehow scrambled clear by a frantically scrambling keeper.
But there was still time and the watch showed forty-one minutes when further pressing found the ball at Andy Taylor's feet strangely in a left wide midfield slot he had shifted to right back with - Woodards' departure. Looking as though he'd played there all his life, he hoisted a magnificent cross to Challinor on the right - ironically Taylor's starting position - just inside the corner of the eighteen yard box. In a single movement he controlled the ball, dropped it down and unleashed an unstoppable howitzer of a shot into the roof of the net to give the keeper no chance whatsoever and all three points to City. So a fine result, but not necessarily the same could be said for the performance. For much of the game we were disjointed and awkward, reverting to hoof ball tactics and treating the ball as though it were a cross between a live hand grenade and a wasps' nest that's just been poked with a stick by a bunch of mischievous ten year olds.
But it wasn't all gloom and doom, far from it. The lads at times produced some great football, and, one minute of madness apart, the defence coped with pretty much all Alty could throw their way. Rice didn't have a great deal to do he was powerless for their goal after a fine stop - but he wa confident and generally assured when clutching a slippery and skiddy ball. The four in front on the whole seem happy to pass the ball amongst themselves and Gill who sits just in front, but too often today they seemed to get bored with this and instead of passing their way forwards decided to launch it long instead. A shame this as they are more talented than that, and it's not as if the midfield is bereft of skill either. Challinor's goal was brutish quality, and Taylor was involved in much of the good stuff today. They were bypassed all to often. Up front Stansfield and Mackie zip all over the place, and for them there's no such thing as a lost cause. This is why the ball needs to go along the floor to them. They're never going to win flick ons against barn door centre halves, yet both possess the skill and nous to trick their opponents inside out. In the end though we're still unbeaten, and I'm sure if you'd told Tisdale two wins and a draw and only one goal conceded a fortnight ago he'd have bitten your hand off. In flashes we've shown brilliance, we just need a little more consistency as well as belief in our abilities. We can and will play better, but if we can keep getting results without pulling up trees then performances will follow as surely as night follows day.
Exeter City 2 Altrincham 1.
Saturday 26 August 2006.
Exeter: Rice, Woodards (Cozic 65), Edwards, Todd, Billy Jones, Taylor, Gill, Buckle (Moxey 64), Challinor, Stansfield (Phillips 64), Mackie.
Subs Not Used: Paul Jones, Richardson.
Goals: Todd 39, Challinor 86.
Altrincham: Coburn, Aspinall, Band, Talbot (Chalmers 89), Scott, Lawton, Bushell, Owen, Peyton, O'Neill (Thornley 79), Little (Bowler 78).
Subs Not Used: Munroe, Rose.
Booked: Peyton, Thornley.
Goals: Lawton 3.
Referee J Linington (England).