26 August 2006.
ON THE ROAD REPORT: THE VIEWS OF JIM TUCKER
Saturday 26 August 2006
Tamworth 1 Exeter City 0
At last! Four matches in, and finally get to see a City match. What a mixture of emotions runs through your veins at the first match of the season; but this year 270 minutes have been played already, for me to extract what sense I can about what to expect, Solid defence - hope so! Getting it down and passing yes please! Lapsing occasionally into the long ball game-probably!
What are my hopes and expectations? Well, experience - from long ago, as well as from last season - shows that we need to keep cool and not get carried away. Personally, have small ambitions for the team, like finally beating Woking, or avoiding a sixth straight defeat at Aldershot, or even winning at Stevenage. If we do all those, well who knows?
So it's off to the lamb, a bigger party than usual, because my son George (if you remember "I'm Here for the City" that was him on the poster) is 21 today. That celebrated Exile Neil Le Milliere also has a birthday, perhaps a year or two older. If you don't know Tamworth the place, well... don't rush to go there. But the locals we meet on the gate, the stewards etc, are always unfailingly friendly, and good for them. The Kettlebrook Rood end, which is partially covered, provides good atmosphere if full.
And so it was a bright afternoon with showers around, as City kicked off defending our end. And it quickly became apparent that with Rob Edwards on board this is an organised and disciplined defence, with players who look composed as they go about the job. Tamworth, pointless from 3 games, lived up to expectations in being determined to impress, but an early free kick came to nothing, as did one for City. We were already struggling to find a real pattern, and the occasional hopeful but pointless long ball was in evidence.
Tamworth seemed to pose little threat as the game got going, but City were not able to use possession effectively. Finally, a Billy Jones pass set up Andy Taylor for a real shot, comfortably saved by Bowles in the home goal, before Tamworth forced the game's first corner, only for Woodards to head clear with confidence. After 20 minutes we finally achieved a corner or two, but Jones over-hit the crosses. Then 5 minutes later, when Edwards seemed to slip on the green surface, a scrambled shot was superbly - or luckily - kept out by Ricey's trailing foot-you'll have to ask him which! - but he recovered quickly to catch the following cross.
As the half wore on, excitement rather dwindled, although Jamie Mackie had a good shot well saved. The strikers seemed HE VIEWS OF JIM TUCKER
isolated, as a good many midfielders spent a lot of time at the back, and then broke too slowly, or not at all. The passing game was being strangled by inadequate mobility, and wa were also too easy to dispossess when on the ball.
Overall, then, a disappointing first half, and the second started in much the same way, with the Grecians making it two unthreatening teams, as they allowed home defenders to stifle slender attacks with ease. Then, suddenly, 10 minutes into the half, it all changed, as we upped the pace and got far more men forward. And the 500 or so City fans responded in kind. Mackie and Adam Stansfield were getting in behind now, and a delicious run and cross from Jamie only just eluded Jon Challinor. A succession of corners followed, then Mackie was perhaps unfortunate to be taken off, as manager Tisdale brought on crowd favourite Lee Phillips.
The message to the players was plain for all to see, "Go For It!" And yet, just typically of our dear old City, the purple patch was on borrowed time. True, a Woodards cross - is he the only one who can put in a decent cross? - was taken off Phillips' toe when a goal seemed certain, but we were already slowing down. Then off came Adam Stansfield and Jon Challinor, with Dean Moxey going to left midfield, and Bertie Cozic partnering Phillips.
It really didn't happen after that for City, and after at comically delayed home substitution, when the player going off apparently didn't know, full back Adie Smith headed a left wing corner down into the near side of the net, with just 10 minutes left. Deano did his best, but with an awful lot of creativity back warming
the bench, an equaliser was never really on, and so it proved. There is no getting away from it, this was a very poor result against a team we really should have beaten. Credit Tamworth with keeping going and taking the chance, even if they did. waste time a lot, but with the talent in the blue away kit we should have had the points in the bag long before that.
That some of our midfielders should see out 90 minutes in preference to Challinor was beyond me, and from the booing that greeted the move others agreed. And for a team that apparently has 3 highly-rated strikers who make it hard to choose to start each game, how come we finished with only one?
Let's hope this match supplies some pointers for Paul Tisdale and his team, after all they had another chance in 48 hours (against Crawley). For me, say keep the playmakers on the field, please, get men forward more, and absolutely no long balls.
Tamworth 1 Exeter City 0.
Saturday 26 August 2006.
Tamworth: Bowles, Smith, Kemp, Weaver, Thomas, Ward, Neilson (Law 61), McCallum, McGrath, Stevenson (Williams 80), Atieno.
Subs Not Used: Belford, Cooper, Moore.
Goals: Smith 80.
Exeter: Rice, Woodards, Todd, Edwards, Billy Jones, Taylor, Gill, Buckle, Challinor (Moxey 77), Mackie (Phillips 60), Stansfield (Cozic 76).
Subs Not Used: Paul Jones, Richardson.
Booked: Woodards, Cozic.
Referee. A Hendley (West Midlands).