24 February 2007
Burton Albion (h)
PARK REPORT: THE VIEWS OF ANTONY MOXEY
Saturday 24th February 2007
EXETER CITY 3 BURTON ALBION 0
So despite Burton doing their best Rushden impression, City run out deserved 3-0 winners thanks to some inspired substitutions on a blustery afternoon at the Park that paid more than a passing resemblance to the Somme rather than a football pitch in front of a healthy 3475 fans.
The old adage of 'it ain't broke don't fix it' rings true on the good ship ECFC these days, so with that in mind it was only one change to the starting line up from the one against Rushden a couple of days ago; Dean Moxey slotting in at left midfield in place of the suspended Lee Elam.
It took a while for both teams to settle though - the recent weather has had a big effect on the pitch and the valiant efforts of the groundstaff should be applauded in getting a game on at all. It wasn't until the quarter hour mark that we saw the first meaningful action: a Carlisle corner to the far post being nodded back into the melee by Buckle before eventually being hacked away to safety.
Five minutes later a long Gill throw into the box was cleared to Moxey 20 yards out but unfortunately his powerful shot couldn't find it's way through a crowded penalty area and this too was hacked away to safety as well.
On the half hour good work down the left from Challinor, Jones and Moxey fashioned a chance for Mackie but he dragged his shot into the near post side netting from the edge of the area.
Mackie again was involved ten minutes later squirming into the box and riding tackles before pulling the ball back to the lurking Challinor who, caught slightly on the hop, hoisted the ball over the bar with his wrong foot.
With time fast running out it was Challinor's turn to weave as he skipped past challenge after challenge in the box before standing the ball up to the far post. Unfortunately Moxey gambled wrongly and went to the near post in anticipation and watched in anguish as the ball sailed over his head and away harmlessly. In the final minute of the half Challinor chased down a defender to his corner flag and as the defender launched the ball clear caught him with a very late and poorly timed challenge. It didn't look overly clever, but the ref deemed it sufficient to earn a yellow card and thus take Challinor to booking number five and an automatic suspension.
The second half started a lot more brightly with City keen to turn first half territorial advantage into more than just a pleasing statistic. In the second minute Challinor tried to shield a long ball pumped up to the edge of the box and watched Mackie collect behind him. Unfortunately Mackie's shot wasn't of quite the calibre of his turn and suspect the ball is still sailing past Debenhams even now. A couple of minutes later it was Challinor's turn to waste an effort; his turn and shot inside the box lacking the power and direction to trouble the keeper. Then on fifteen minutes the turning point of the match came when Mackie and Carlisle made way for Logan and Stansfield. Both went straight up front with Challinor dropping into Carlisle's spot out wide on the ride. The effect was instantaneous with at last someone to win the ball in the air and outmuscle big Burton defenders. After twenty minutes Logan set Stansfield away down the left
where his ferocious shot was well parried but straight to Moxey 25 yards out who could only smash the rebound narrowly wide. But this merely set the scene for what was to come as a minute
later as Stansfield again set off through the middle despite the close attentions of a desperate defender. Stansfield held him off and once inside the area let fly with a vicious drive that was fantastically saved, but the ref decided the defender's attentions were a little too close and awarded City a somewhat controversial penalty. To compound matters for Burton, the defender adjudged to have fouled was red carded as the last defender, thus reducing Burton to ten men for the remaining twenty five minutes.
Despite missing his previous two at the Park - both against Kidderminster: one in the league and one in the FA Trophy - Billy Jones stepped up confidently. We needn't have doubted him as he righteously smashed the spot kick home high to the keeper's left as he dived low to the right to give City a thoroughly deserved 1-0 lead.
Midway through the half, and with City cruising, Stansfield returned the compliment to Logan inviting him to charge through and chase a ball into the box. However, despite winning the chase and having a one on one with the keeper fifteen yards out, Logan scuffed wastefully wide.
But on the half hour the game was made safe. A long raking cross field ball found Moxey in space on the left who cleverly played the ball inside a defender for the rushing Jones. He collected the ball just inside the box where he was scythed down by an awful Burton challenge to give the ref no option but to award City a second penalty in eight minutes. This time Logan stepped up to hammer the ball low and hard down the middle to give the keeper no chance and make it 2-0 to City.
Five minutes later manager Tisdale decided Buckle had had enough chasing and harrying so let him rest for the final ten minutes giving Cozic a run out in his stead. Five further minutes of City domination elapsed before City next chance presented itself - Logan powering a downward header from a corner goalwards that somehow was desperately cleared off the line to safety.
The final minute approached and with City at ease and Burton in pieces City ran the clock down with a superb 19 pass move (yes, counted them all!) that was bought to an end when Cozic strayed fractionally offside ghosting into the box on the end of a through ball that he normally does so well. But it wasn't quite over, and the final action came in the 92nd minute with the best piece of skill in the game. Spotting a gap Moxey dinked the ball over a defender into a space almost exactly half way between the defender and his keeper. The keeper rushed out, and sensing the ball was there to be won, Stansfield rushed across from the middle of the park in a straight race between the two. Stansfield got there a yard early and in one delicious movement lofted the ball sublimely over the keeper and into the empty net from 20 yards to put the icing on the cake of a very satisfying team and individual performance.
But for much of the game it looked like Rushden all over again. Burton players were dropping like flies and frankly it was getting embarrassing watching their physio running on every couple of minutes.
The conditions didn't help City overcome this timewasting and playacting, but as far as overall play was concerned Burton just weren't in it and all of the passing, shots, cleverness and guile came from City. Indeed, during the entire ninety minutes Burton's solitary attempt on goal was a looping header that an U10s keeper would have gathered with ease.
Exeter City 3 Burton Albion 0.
Saturday 24 February 2007.
Referee G Scott
Exeter: Paul Jones, Tully, Edwards, Todd, Billy Jones, Carlisle (Logan 60), Gill, Buckle (Cozic 79), Moxey, Mackie (Stansfield 60), Challinor.
Subs Not Used: Rice, Richardson.
Booked: Moxey, Challinor.
Goals: Billy Jones 69 pen, Logan 76 pen, Stansfield 90.
Burton Albion: Poole, Brayford, Tinson, Austin, Corbett, Nicholls, Carden, Bell (Harrad 78), Ducros, Clare (Henshaw 69), Shaw.
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Clough.
Sent Off: Brayford (67).
Booked: Ducros, Bell.